What would I have done differently after 6 yrs. in the Philippines?
First off, I would have had an exit strategy. As noted in my earlier article, there were two occasions when I seriously considered returning to the United States. With all of our retirement funds tied up in a five year T-72 IRA fund, we did not have enough funds to return to America and would have had to borrow money to finance a return trip.
That was pure stupidity on my part. We did have a certain amount of money that we brought with us but the bulk of those assets went to finance our new roof and CR, Comfort Room, at my asawa’s residence that she had built in Guimaras while working overseas in Singapore.
So I would caution future expats reading this to bring more cash and have more money in the bank than you may have originally planned for. I have to laugh at my ignorance thinking a person could survive on 500 dollars a month here. As noted in previous posts, you would have to adopt an extreme native lifestyle. While not impossible, for the average Westerner, used to a certain standard of living, it might be extremely difficult.
Regular readers of Philippines Plus also know that I would have brought more tools over in the balikbayan boxes we did have delivered from the States. The quality of tools, for the most part, are better than what we can purchase in the Philippines. I had a garage full of tools back in the States that, at 100 dollars a box, I should have shipped over.
Also, I have encouraged readers in the past to bring over more medications and vitamins that you can purchase in bulk cheaper in the States. A big thanks to Papa Duck, Alan S, and Murray the Kiwi for medications and supplies they have brought over to us in the Philippines.
DO NOT MOVE IN WITH THE RELATIVES. DO NOT MOVE IN WITH THE RELATIVES. DO NOT DO MOVE IN WITH THE RELATIVES.
No, that’s not a typo. I cannot emphasize how HUGE of a mistake it was to move for us to live in a house, that was built and paid for by my wife, but was already occupied by my mother-in-law, two nieces and two nephews.
My wife tried to tell me that it was not a good idea but I figured we could save money on rent. 18 months later we were living in a subdivision on nearby Panay Island and paying around 125 USD a month.
The main problem? My mother-in-law and relatives always coming by looking for money. For details, check out why we left.
My mother-in-law went to Manila for almost 18 months to live with her favorite oldest son who spends most of his money on cock fights. She has since returned but is not living with us.
Maybe you are one of the fortunate expats that get along with your relatives and can live in the same household with them. Many foreigners, however, recommend the three-hour rule; live at least three hours from any of your wife’s relatives. Good advice, neighbor.
KEPT MY MOUTH SHUT MORE
If I could go back in time during these past six years in the Philippines, I would have kept my mouth shut more. I get pissed off at times for the following reasons:
- Warm beer.
- Rude expats.
- Rude Filipinos that butt in line.
- Neighbors that play loud music.
- Neighbors that have loud barking dogs.
- People that push me in crowds. I always push back. Ask my wife.
- Brownouts. Can’t do anything about them but they still irritate me at times.
- Dog s**t in our yard in Savannah Subdivision, Iloilo.
- The “skin tax.” You’ll find that you’ll sometimes pay a lot more for stuff because you’re a “rich kano.”
- Dumb ass tricyle and jeepney drivers that have no concept of the Rules of the Road.
I talk a lot about common sense in my book, “The Philippines Expat Advisor,” but don’t always follow my own advice. My wife always gets upset when I react negatively to the locals, although the majority of the time I don’t have a problem with them.
But my loving asawa always thinks someone is going to stab me or kill me. Well, that did happen to an American and his Filipina wife recently, unfortunately.
So in retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut more during the past six years. Although I believe my outbursts have been warranted at times, it’s probably better if I would follow Jesus’ advice and turn the other cheek more often.
DRINK MORE WATER
I’ve had three kidney stone attacks since moving to the Philippines over six years ago. Those extremely unpleasant incidents could have possibly been avoided if I would have consumed more water. Many days I would only drink one glass of water. Now I drink at least two liters a day.
Due to the high humidity in the Philippines, an average of around 86% a day in our province, I sweat a lot and need to stay hydrated. I haven’t had an attack in almost a year now and don’t really care to have any more.
PEE OUTSIDE MORE
I wish I would have peed outside more these past six years. Peeing in public is commonplace in the Philippines, especially our rural province of Guimaras. I’ve waited in our truck for my wife to do some shopping and have seen 4-5 guys pee in the space of 30 minutes. Don’t worry, I don’t stare at them.
But in order to fit in more with the locals, I really should have taken to urinating outside more often. I’ll try to do more of that in the future.
What else would I have done differently after 6 yrs. in the Philippines? Drink more beer. Eat less balut. Go to church more. The list goes on and on. I’ll try to do better these next six years. I’ll keep you posted.