Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Philippines, Part 1


 

One of the great things about living in the Philippines is the opportunity to learn (or unlearn) things about yourself.  Since I have been here, I have had a few epiphanies along the way – things that were actually quite obvious to any casual observer, but central to things that I couldn’t clearly see due to fracturing and imperfections on the lens through which I viewed reality.  I won’t bore you with the details of those first ones – I’ll just simply relate the one that happened this past week.

Friday came along and my Pagadian Princess was off to Mindanao for a wedding/bachelor funeral.  I was pretty psyched, thinking that it was going to be a hedonistic weekend of partying, drinking to excess and dancing until dawn.  (Unfortunately that plan never actually coalesced as I usually get up around 4 AM to work and I have to be in bed by 9 PM.  Durn bedtimes…..)   So, the first night home alone, I just played Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel in my boxer shorts and woofed down a bag of Sweet Mesquite Doritos.  Ah, the bachelor life…..    That second night, though, I decided to go out and hit a local restobar – someplace that I hadn’t gone to before but had wanted to check out for a while.

Flip-Flops is a small restobar that sits just across and down the street from Hypermart.  I had heard it had pretty good music and decent food, so I decided to swing by and grace them with my presence.  I pulled in on my trusty 125cc steed around 7:30 (an hour an a half til I turn into a pumpkin…) and already the place was hopping.  It was your typical layout for a restobar except for two things:  The waitresses wore flashing LED nametags and the customer demographic was decidedly………..old – late seventies and early eighties – veritably decrapitated.  And although annoyingly bright, the flashing neon nametags I could live with, especially being pinned to their uniforms where they were.  What I couldn’t accept for the life of me was the behavior of the geezer crowd that was gathered there – they were hopping and jumping all over the place, throwing their hands in the air, fist pumping, doing the funky chicken and basically partying like it was 1999.  Or – I thought, privately relishing my inestimable wit – 1899. 

So, I’m drinking my cold San Miguel and waiting on my fish and chips.  By this time, a few of the old dudes had actually gotten on stage and – having relieved the band singers of their microphones – were now belting out a rather over the top version of the Beatles “Obladi, Oblada,” you know, the one that goes “la la how the life goes on…..”   The dancing is still going on, as the hopping around.  At any moment I am expecting one of these coots to do a backflip off the stage and break a hip.

I’m aghast – mortified even.  Embarrassed for my fellow expats since they are obviously far too senile and gone to be embarrassed for themselves.  Rolling my eyes, I continue to drink my drink and look down my nose at the goings on.

Then – quite suddenly – it hits me.  It’ during the second chorus of “Obladi, Oblada” and just before my fish and chips arrive:  A shit-eating grin has plastered itself across my face, and I’m getting it.

These guys are living the dream.

If they were back in the US (or France, or the UK or Australia…), their families would have most likely already shipped them off to a nursing home (ahem, “residential care for the elderly facility….”) and all they’d be looking forward to is the odd game of backgammon, bad food and Saturday morning sing-alongs.  Here in the Philippines, they’re out and about and living life on their own terms.  They don’t give a rat’s ass that some slightly younger dude is over in the corner judging them – they’re too busy having a good time and realizing the full potential of life to be concerned about such things.

 

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I take a sip of beer and realize it’s not their shit that is so offending my sensibilities – it’s my own shit.

“Old folks” in the West are marginalized and typically put out to pasture in their Winter years.  Their best days are seen as well behind them, and the younger folks don’t want to see them out and about – it causes them too much fear and anxiety about their own inevitable mortality. 

Here in the Philippines, it’s different.  Old people are afforded greater respect and nursing homes don’t – outside of Manila – exist.  The elderly are still allowed their autonomy and self-direction.  They can breathe…..

A few more sips of my beer. 

And then I think to myself, “With god’s grace (and a lot less cigarettes and sisig), I hope I can have what they have someday…….”

Doing the funky chicken at 75 with my hands in the air and not giving a hoot…….

 

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Comments 13

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      Author
  1. You’re getting’ it brother…..one day you’re gonna realize that the woman you are staying with is your soulmate and figure you can’t do without her…I feel that way about my asawa….and hopefully…one day…you will get that one too!….keep up the good work Ned! We always look forward to see your vids sir!

  2. Hey Ned,
    Just wanted to make some comments on your great blog.
    My filipina wife Flordeliz and myself really enjoy the vids and your sharing experience in the PH.
    Im not surprised that the older people party down after I started going the the local VFW a few years ago. I was surprised at first.
    As for your house, it looks relatively nice for, I think you said 200.00 monthly?
    Yes it is a culture shock about the wife/gf family expectations for money to help with whatever their needs are and I understand that now but they also need to understand our western cultures also and come to a compromise. I took 5k with me when I went to see Poi (nickname) and that didn’t last for the 3 weeks I was there in Gingoog. Im not complaining but I just thought it would be plenty. Lol
    As for kids at your age, Go for it man. Looks like you have a gem there.
    I am 61 and my wife 34 and we have two of the most beautiful kids you can imagine.
    A boy 6 and a girl 4.
    Kids would have been the last thing I would want at my age but now that I have them it has changed my whole outlook on life. This Is no doubt the best accomplishment I will ever have in my life.
    I think you said you’re from Boston? I assume you’re not a native as I didn’t detect a Boston accent.
    Anyway thanks for the blog. You have me really wanting to come there now.
    Fred

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      Author

      Hey, Fred. Yeah, the house is about $220 a month. It’s a little crazy around the neighborhood as of late, so we are looking to move. And yes, the cultural shock can be a bit steep at times, but I am slowly getting used to the in’s and out’s of it. 🙂

  3. Pingback: My First Year in the Philippines - People, Places and Things - My Philippine DreamsMy Philippine Dreams

  4. Hello Dream Team,
    Happy New Years!!!!!
    I love your philosophical take on life there, and have become addicted to your articles and vids.
    Socrates and Plato didn’t have anything on you. But, then again, they didn’t have a Michell either. HAHA
    I have visited nursing homes several times and they are incredibly depressing places – sadly, almost like a holding pen for souls awaiting their pending transport to the morgue. Many of them are just existing – hanging on and waiting for their number to be called. But the picture you painted above of the life of the rollicking oldies should be inspirational to all of us. It demonstrates that that we all need to be the masters of our own fate, and that life in our golden years can still be some of our very best years. – Except maybe for that occasional trip to the Opthamologist, Urologist, Dermatologist, Orthopedic surgeon or other specialist where we are prodded, poked, burned, cut, etc. HAHAHA! But what is noteworthy from your discussion above is that we don’t have to be those people waiting in that holding pen!
    The crowd at Flip-Flops is Living the Dream – as you said. Better to enjoy life to the fullest as long as you can – even if that means having a heart attack while doing the funky chicken at some obscure place on the far side of the globe. Cheers and Thumbs Up to you and all of those folks!!!
    I am still on the fence about making a break with my Comfortably Numb existence here in the US, but you and Michell have been a genuine inspiration and have really started me thinking seriously about better times ahead. Unfortunately, as we get older, it seems that we are not as resilient as we were in our earlier life, and major lifestyle changes like your transition to a potential tropical paradise seem to be more of a dream than a reality on the horizon.
    Incidentally, I have been to the PI twice.
    I also think the authors of MyPhilippineDreams should be named “The Dream Team” – not just Ned and Michell.
    Please keep up your inspirational work, and just maybe, someday, I will have the pleasure of joining you and Michell – maybe Henry too – for dinner – my treat haha!

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      Author

      Thanks, Lee. And as you have probably noticed during your two prior visits, the Philippines is not paradise. I don’t think anyplace actually is. 🙂 And you are right – seeing those older guys and gals have a great time really changed my perspective on things. Still, people are giving up a lot of conveniences by making such a move, and that’s why we always recommend visiting for extended periods and just getting a lay of the land. I appreciate your comment – we make very little money on this site and expressed gratitude means a lot!

  5. WHAT????? “Philippines is not paradise”????
    Now you have totally ruined my day!!!!! LOL
    I would like to thank both you and Michell for all of the great information, some great humor, and allowing us into your daily lives. I really admire the courage it takes for both of you to discuss relationship issues – which many men find difficult to openly discuss.
    Go Dream Team!!!

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      Author

      Thanks, Lee. It’s gonna be fun looking back ten years from now and watching our own videos. And we don’t talk about everything – there’s a bunch of stuff that we keep private. Just the general stuff. 🙂

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