Are you considering the Philippines as your retirement destination? I’ve lived in the Philippines for over nine years now. I’ve been married to a lovely Filipina for over 18 years. As a result, I’ve gained some insight over the years regarding life in “paradise.” Consequently, I’ve decided to write this post to help inform future retirees: “Top 7 Expat Philippines Retirement Problems.”
7. Ongoing Power Outages
First of all, let me address an ongoing problem that has plagued me ever since retiring to the Philippines: ongoing power outages.
The Guimelco Problem
Regular readers of “PhilippinesPlus” know that I’ve documented over the years the failings of our local utility company in Guimaras, Guimelco.
Despite a 100 million peso loan Guimelco took out to refurbish the existing power grid in our island province, we still experience an unacceptable amount of monthly “brown outs.”
Though the updating of our island’s electrical service was supposed to be completed by our annual Manggahan Festival (held in May), we still have days where we have eight hour power outages.
These annoying brown outs are about as welcome as a porcupine in a nudist colony.
Furthermore, we’ve experienced an average of 16.5 power outages a month over the past three months. Through this past August, September, and October 2018, we’ve undergone brown outs totaling an average of 24 hours a month.
Saying “No” to a Generator
We refuse to buy a generator. Although our home in the Philippines is already wired for generator use, I adamantly refuse to purchase one.
It’s a matter of principle to me. I believe our utility company should render a basic service such as providing electrical service.
That said, we have noticed that low voltage issues we’ve experience over the past several months may have finally been corrected.
We had not been able to efficiently operate our microwave or swimming pool pump due to low voltage. However, in the past week, the microwave and pump have been working up to speed now.
If you’re planning to retire to the Philippines on a pension, such as I was able to do, what do you plan to do with all your extra time?
Because I was in a daily work routine with AT&T back in the States for almost 30 years, I had a lot of spare time once we moved to the Philippines.
Furthermore, once I arrived here, I discovered that the relatives wanted to do everything for me. Of course, my loving wife took the lead in that. Also, now that we’ve had a live-in domestic helper over the past four years, I have even less to do around the house.
I have only two chores:
- Boil water in our dirty kitchen using the firewood found on our property. Why use the LPG when we have a free source of energy available?
- Sexy pool boy duties. My wife put me in charge of maintaining the swimming pool in our back yard. I clean the pool twice a day and add chemicals every third day. That’s the extent of my daily tasks.
Therefore, once we retired, I needed some kind of hobby or “job.” Something to keep me busy.
While drinking beer and chasing young girls might be the pastime for some expats, I opted to start a blog.
Graphic credit: Captain Tom at Line of Sight
Once we had internet service at our first home in the Philippines, I “Googled” “how to start a blog” and was on my way. Nine years later, I’m still blogging, albeit, not on a daily basis like I used to when I first started.
Consequently I have something productive to do in my spare time. I would suggest getting a hobby or starting some kind of beneficial project once your arrive here and get settled in.
5. Cultural Differences
- Peeing in public. Men and women
- Expat Movie Star status.
- Lady boys on every corner.
- Troublesome relatives looking for a handout.
- “Saving Face.”
- The rude Filipino butting in line.
- Armed guards in the Philippines.
- Prison sentences for adultery.
These are just a few of the cultural differences you’ll discover in the Philippines. Above all, please remember you are ONLY A VISITOR, A GUEST, in the Philippines.
Leave behind your Western sensibilities and traditions. They don’t matter here.
YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHTS AS A FOREIGNER.
It is a PRIVILEGE that is accorded from the Immigration Bureau of the Philippines to live here.
IT IS NOT A RIGHT!
Act accordingly. Try to be civil at all times.
4. Safety Issues
If you’re not selling shabu or weed or sleeping with your neighbor’s wife or a 14-year-old Filipina, you’ll probably be OK in the Philippines.
Use COMMON SENSE. Stay out of Sulu in Mindanao and other hotspots in the Philippines that the U.S. State Dept. warns its citizens of. You’ll probably be OK and won’t lose your head. Either one.
Again, common sense is the key. There’ s places I didn’t walk around in the States. Same applies in the Philippines.
3. “Filipino Time”
Ahhh, “Filipino Time,” a custom so prevalent in the Philippines that it deserves its own section.
“Filipino Time” is another major cultural difference that takes some getting used to. I’m still adjusting to it after over nine years in the Philippines (and after being married to a Filipina for over 18 years.)
At times it can be quite maddening and irritating. For the uninitiated, “Filipino Time” is a laid back state-of-mind practiced by many Filipinos where being on time for functions, appointments or deadlines means very little and is rarely observed.
In short, “Filipino Time” can mean always being late and things are done when they are done.
Don’t be in a hurry because nobody else is.
2. Maddening Red Tape
The Republic Act 11032 or Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 was supposed to eliminate maddening bureaucratic red tape in the Philippines.
Above all, I appreciate President Duterte’s efforts to streamline government operations. However, BusinessWorld.com reported that the Philippines slipped 11 places in the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2019 Report.”
In the 2018 report the Philippines ranked 113th out of 190 countries tracked. This year the archipelago dropped to 124th place.
It seems like that at times, everyone wants a “piece of the pie” and straggle people seeking business permits or other necessary licenses with red tape.
Be forewarned, getting something done in “paradise” is never simple. That’s why “fixers” still have a flourishing business in the Philippines.
1. The Philippines is one of the worst places in the world to die
PhilStar.com reported back in 2015 that a Quality of Death study listed the Philippines as one of the worst places to die, next to Iraq and Bangladesh.
Brothers and sisters, that’s troubling.
The Economist Intelligence Unit report, commissioned by Singapore nonprofit Lien Foundation, indicated that the Philippines, out of 80 countries, scored poorly in terms of the quality of end-of-life care available.
The quality of death index was measured across five categories:
- Palliative and healthcare environment
- human resources
- affordable care
- quality of care
- Level of community engagement.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.
This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness.
The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
The low ranking of the Philippines in the overall scores of quality of death index was attributed to the following:
- severe shortage of specialized palliative care professionals
- lack of government-led strategy for the development and promotion of national palliative care
- limited number of government subsidies or programs for individuals accessing palliative care services
- limited public understanding and awareness of palliative care services.
Out of a list of 80 countries, the Philippines was placed near the bottom when it comes to providing quality palliative care services. The country ranked 78th while Thailand came in 44th, China 71st and India 67th.
Unfortunately, we lost one of our dear expat friends last month. Three foreigners that we know of died this year of illnesses on our island province of Guimaras.
Our friend that passed away was treated by what is described as one of the best hospitals in nearby Iloilo City.
All I can say, is that I’m not shocked by this abysmal ranking. Frankly, if you have any serious healthcare issues, please think twice about moving to the Philippines.
Top 7 Expat Philippines Retirement Problems
That said, I’ve been enjoying my life in the Philippines with my lovely Filipina wife these past nine years. We don’t have any plans to ever move back to the United States. We live a comfortable and relatively stress-free life on our little island province.
If you’re considering a move to the Philippines, check out my best-selling guide, “The Philippines Expat Advisor.” In my book, I give you the “good, the bad and the ugly” aspects of living in the Philippines. We’re in for the long haul. Warts and all.