Living the Philippine Dream – Not All is How it Seems…….

“A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down….”

― Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities


When I first came up with the “Philippine Dreams” brand name, I didn’t realize just how truly apropos it was.  The name came to me during a meeting with a local tech guy who had asked me what I wanted my website to be called. Having not even given it much (any) thought, we went through a few ideas, checking them for dot com availability, but nothing seemed to really ring true until we punched in ‘Philippine Dreams.”  The green check mark saying it was available popped up, and with that it was done:  Philippine Dreams was mine. 

And how appropriate the “Dream” part turned out to be…..

I posted up a photo a few weeks back that caused a bit of a stir.  It was a posed shot and meant for comedic effect, but quite a few people actually took it seriously. In fact, it seems EVERYONE took it seriously. In case you didn’t see the Facebook post, this is the photo:

Now, keep in mind that the two ladies in the shot are two friends of the channel – Jules and Dana.  The photo was taken by our buddy Brian in the pool at Tejero Adventure Park in Valencia.  What is not explained is that I was going through just a wee bit of ‘relational drama’ at the time and that the posed shot was intended as a bullshit (‘bewsit’ in bisaya) “Not to worry – everything is just fine” counterpoint to the realities of my personal situation at the time. The photo came out OK, so I posted it up on that platform of narcissism and misinformation that I so dearly fond of, Facebook. (Insert ‘barf’ emoticon here…..)

And then the comments commenced….

The comments arrived in two distinct flavors:  It was either people giving me an “Attaboy!!” for being such a seasoned playboy or folks expressing their disdain for those very same behaviors.  And as they kept rolling in, I expected someone as some point to recognize it for what it was and toss in a “Hahahaha, Ned – too funny.”  But no one did.  And with that I became a bit despondent, for my sublime comedic intents were not being appreciated.  Ah, the sacrifices I make for my ‘art.’  With comedy being based on tragedy and nothing being more tragic than my relational life, it was a shame that no one seems to be laughing with me, just at me. 


If you personally know me, you’ll know that my romantic love life has been pretty much a full-out shit show.  And it’s been like that for many, many months.  Details are not important, and since some of the relationships (and people involved in them) are publically known, it’s would be totally inappropriate for me to be talking about them.  Ah, the irony – a public blogger focused on the realities of life in the Philippines who can’t talk about the realities of some aspects of life in the Philippines… 

Anyhoo – I don’t wanna get too bogged down in those particulars.

The point is this:  A good number of your expectations and experiences regarding the Philippines are not going to be based on actual reality.  Once you have meandered your way down into the rabbit hole that is the reality of Philippines life, all will not be as it seems. Whether it is getting nailed with the usual Kano/long-nose tax, incessant requests for load, no-meter taxi scams, the myriad hidden fees at local resorts, 20,000 peso electricity bills, online Lazada scams, luxury beachfront homes becoming Pinoy resorts following separations, counterfeit goods, vanishing down payments on rental properties or nearly anything and everything else you can imagine, all is not always how it seems in the Philippines.  And if you’ve visited or lived here before, you’ll know what I mean:  Separating the fact from the fiction here can be quite the undertaking – and an onerous one at that.

Now, I am not saying all of this simply out of spite.  It’s just the reality. One of the things that I have always tried to do is talk about everything that is relevant to life in the Philippines – the good, the bad and the sometimes outright ugly.  Like everywhere else in the world, the Philippines is not paradise.  It may surely seem like it at times, but like all things, there are always dark clouds lurking on the horizon of these sunny skies.  And occasional dark intentions behind all of those blazing smiles.

So, no, life in the Philippines is not all puppies and rainbows.  Or cute gals stealing kisses in gentle waters.

Because occasionally you are going to face plant on the water slide of life in the Philippines and come away a little worse for wear.

But when all is said and done, perhaps that is part of the allure of living here.



Comments 19

  1. No it isn’t ‘all puppy dogs and rainbows’. I am going on two years here (Catanduanes) & have had to deal with all sorts of stuff that is NOT covered under the ‘Island Paradise’ tag. For us it goes back to why we came here in the first place. My wife is from here and after spending 40 years following my ass around it was her turn. I found myself setting up shots to show people back home beautiful beaches, while ignoring the piles of trash that I had to walk through to get there, and a lot of other shit lime that. I finally decided to start showing reality instead of travel brochures. It makes me feel better anyway.

    As far as relationships and stuff like that, you are on your own, although I have to tell you that if you know what the acronym GFYS means you will know what I tell peeps that stick their noses into my business!

  2. I didnt comment on the 2 girls kissing you because it was so obvious it was a staged picture for comedic effect. Anyone who knows you or even just watches your video alredy knows your self depricating, sarcastic type of humor. This is what seperates you from other bloogers and causes you to rise to the top.

    Maybe some people dont understand thst kind of humour, but I personally cant se how they couldn’t. It is sad that having a popular blog prevents you from expressing personal opinions that might upet people on the blog. While i certainly enjoy your posts on facebook, your videos and your blogs, I woulnt want to be in your shoes, having to bend to the will of every listener and to have to think about everything you say in public and private to make sure it wont offend listeners.

    There is no way I could keep my mouth shut and not offend the listeners. You are a better man than me to put up with this bullshit. That being said, you provide a valuable service to your listeners of how life is here in the Philippines and Dumaguete in particular. I hope you can continue to put up with the bullshit and continue to provide quality content mixed with sarcasm

  3. Like Kelly Bell, I understood immediately that your photo was staged for comedic effect, so I didn’t comment on it. Now I wish I had.

    Yes, the Philippines is not paradise, at least not every day. Here on Bohol, the trash situation is ridiculous. I watch people sweep and take care of their own yards every morning, but the public areas get worse and worse. The bureaucracy that keeps even the simplest things from being completed because of the endless paperwork drives everyone crazy.

    But we’re here and we each make our own kind of paradise, different from everyone else’s, and we love the good and beautiful even while complaining about the bad and ugly.

    Your sense of humor, sarcasm, and openness is part of the good that we love, Ned. Keep up the good and beautiful work . . .

  4. agree with kelly an Ken , people are really starting to loose the plot may i suggest they take a mouth full of cement an a glass of water a harden up

  5. Like the others, the look on your face and obvious sarcasm was easy to spot in that photo and I enjoyed it.

    I plan to live in Philippines soon and have visited often. I have a private fear that I wonder if anyone else feels. All the starlets that sing videoke and even some if the local night club acts singing their hearts out… do they know how bad and untrained they sound? Not to sound pompous, but will the lack of sophistication in some cultural activities make me longing for home?

  6. Hey Ned, I’ve been threatened and from the information provided with the threat it is real and has scared me.
    I can not access my Word Press account so could you please delete all my comments on your web page and block me like you did the Shivering Traveller?
    I have already deleted all my You Tube comments on all channels and just need to clean up my comments here to give me some peace of mind.
    As for the “Shit Shoot” you referred to in this article, I think may be your overcompensating after breaking up with Michell and trying too hard. Stay sharp but relaxed and things may run smoother.

  7. You of all people should know that subtle humor here is a fruutless endeavor. And living here for 2years myself understand the ” Puppies and Rainbows” reference all too well. But like you, this is my home now. Chin up and keep doing what you obviously enjoy ——Love your website!!!!

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  8. I don’t know how you manage to remain so positive😂 I too live in or around Dumaguete thanks mainly to your channel. Thanks a lot mate!!!
    I’ve met you around town on numerous occasions & you only seemed happy once. With a beer in your hand & chewing the fat with friends. The rest of the time you seemed very stressed.
    I have a comfortable life here. I love the markets. I love the the working class people.
    The worst part of living here in this “city” are the locals with their third rate worthless degrees.
    You go twenty km out of town in any direction & life is infinitely more pleasant. Instead of immersing myself in the local culture I’ve gradually retreated. It’s easier that way.
    Paying bills here is an excruciatingly boring pastime. Have they not heard of direct debit. Supermarkets are like hell, soul destroying.
    More & more I delegate to my wife or nanny.
    Life will grind you down here if you let it.
    I spent twenty years living in Spain before moving here. You can thank Spain for the chaos here. I thought it would have been good training & preparation for living here.
    A lot of the westerners living here do seem to be living at the very basic level. They are the ones with the rose coloured specs that tend to say “if you don’t like it go home”.
    I will/would if I needed to. Unlike them I have a choice.
    We just got home from a two day stay in a resort in Dauin. Before that I was in Vietnam.
    You have to get away from it for a while here or it’ll grind the soul out of you.
    Leaving the Philippines with a thirty two year old with three kids.
    Trafficking? Oh come on!
    That’s another story.
    I said this is like nazi Germany or Communist Russia.
    They threatened to blacklist me & deport me. Sick.
    Why is it that EVERYONE has an uncle in Immigration? It’s their favourite knee jerk response to absolutely everything. Inferiorority complex?
    Welcome to the Failapines

  9. Good stuff.

    Luckily, I’ve been here for about two years and haven’t had to deal with a “Kano tax” yet. Pretty much everyone I’ve dealt with has been fair, with or without the wifey around. One time, though, a Jeepney driver almost “forgot” to give me my change–a grand total of 12 pesos–and I had to give him a quick reminder before I got off the Jeep. A buddy of mine, on the other hand, recently got into a bar fight in Manila. A couple of people had tried to rob him. Fortunately, he came out on top and he’s still around.

    Besides the minor “change” incident on the Jeep, I’ve only had a couple of unusual incidents to deal with. One of them involved two dudes on a motorcycle. They tried to hit on me as I jogged through a remote area of town, and after I told them “hindi ako gay” (I ain’t gay) more than a few times, the guy on the back of the motorbike decided to whip out his unit and start stroking it. I was in disbelief, to say the least, and so was my wife when I got back home and told her what happened.

  10. Hey Ned I have been watching the videos you make, and I like them, I video you make was good clean humor. Keep the videos Rollin in. Keep doing what you do and all will be good.
    P.S. I need you to renew my subscription to your book, got a message that i was expired and need to contact you.

  11. Having been twice military myself (Aussie ) I understand the concept of mate ship and loyalty. I went to phil a few times with my ex now an Australian for 20+ years and in the beginning her values were quite humbling to me family, family, family. It did teach me about the connection you should have. But after 5 years it became apparent it was family. The lure of the Aussie dollar to be the queen bee in town, buying farms, building 2 storey houses. Fish farms, pig farms, chicken farms, vegetables, limes, cars homecoming parties watching 2 cows and 2 pigs get cut up in an hour. Then when all was done the statement that blew me. ” I should retire you do FIFO mining now and come see me on your R&R and yep pay running costs. She is 52 I am 49 so not not the usual old story. That day I realised its all a con.

  12. Ned why have you returned to the Stares so soon after just getting back before Mechel left. The raibs don t really come back until July abd for syre August. As for your vacation friend , I was surprised she was able to make time time for this vacation because she just came from another vacation location with someone else, no wonder she was late getting there. Other than getting the injury, was the short time with her enjoyable? I guess that is all we can ask for. Oh , more wonderful thing to lookforward to here. When the local Municipaltality decides to shut the water of four or more times a week from 8 am until 5pm to conserve water, give me a break. The same with local electrical company turns the power off from 8 am until 3 or 4 pm because they are working on transformers.

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  13. Finally! I am a Filipino myself but what you post in here is actually true. Please keep posting stuff like this in the future. I would suggest that you should be careful in who you are having relations with in here. Majority of the Filipinos still have the mentality that foreigners are fully loaded with gold. Philippines is a good travel destination spot but it is not exactly a good place for foreigners to stay for a very long time or even forever, at least not yet anyway. I do hope things will get better for you though. Cheers!

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