Life, Death and Loneliness in the Philippines (And My New Girlfriend?)


Note:  Photos in this article were taken last week along the Dumaguete waterfront.

Open Mouth, Insert Flip-Flop
So, I’ve admitted it before and I’ve got no issues with admitting it yet again:  Sometimes I am seriously clueless. 

After finishing a Livestream this morning’s touching upon experiencing loneliness as an expatriate in the Philippines, I went out to run errands and realized that it was All Saints Day.  For those not in the know, All Saints is a HUGE thing in the Philippines, where families will travel en masse to the cemeteries of their lost ones and remember and reminisce about those who have passed on.  Now, since I haven’t personally experienced losing any close family members, it was ironic at the least (and borderline insulting) for me to be whining about experiencing loneliness while millions of Filipinos are mourning the loss of their own mothers, fathers and sons and daughters. 


My best to more than a few Philippine amigos and amigas who are feeling the very real sadness that this day can bring.  You know who you are.

The Best Things in Life are Free
Being social animals, the relationships that we have – and are able to maintain – are incredibly important. Even more than money, power or whatever one might believe true wealth is. Indeed, true spirituality – in my opinion – is the process of connecting to something greater than oneself, and the people in our lives are probably the most important part of that equation.  Developing deep and meaningful relationships as an expatriate can be a difficult process and can also take a good amount of time – especially when one first arrives in that foreign land. As a result, a good number of folks are going to go through the process of feeling disconnected and adrift, the loneliness that will inevitably coalesce by truly being a stranger in a strange land (shout out to Robert A. Heinlein, if you can grok it).

Expats are Different
I have often said that things are different in the Philippines, and this also applies to the type of porenyers that put down roots here. It takes a certain kind of person to leave their home nation and travel thousands of miles to set up a life for themselves in a foreign land. This is especially true for those traveling from a “First World” nation to one that is a full-on or borderline member of the “Third World.” Typically, they run the “rugged individualist” type and most long-termers aren’t actively to actively expand their social circles.  There is also a good amount of eccentricity going around (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and foreign folks living here tend to have some very strong opinions on certain subjects. This tends to lend to a certain amount of clique-iness and a definite sense of push-back against those who don’t share those same opinions.  Hence, it can be difficult at times to develop relationships with other foreigners. 

A (Mostly) Perfect Circle
Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a cool circle of buds that I can meet up with regularly and shoot the shite.  It’s an eclectic mix of guys from a variety of nations and I am grateful to have them.  Moreover, having that mix of nationalities has also helped me look at my own place in the world in a more objective light.  

I don’t have that many Filipino friends.  (Sheesh, that sounds so sad…) I have a few Filipino-American amigos that I hang out with at times, but for some reason, it’s a bit difficult to actually become super buddy-buddy with Filipinos.  Nosebleed probably figures into the equation as most likely do some socio-cultural differences.  Now don’t get me wrong (and remember this is just my experience): Filipinos are friendly as heck and a group of them won’t hesitate to invite you down to the shared beach blanket and share their Tanduay with you.  Thinking about it, it probably has more to do with me than them.  Believe it or not, I am pretty introverted and sometimes simply won’t make the effort necessary to create those new relationships.  (Haha – and then I’ll whine about how lonely I am at times…..)

My New “Girlfriend”
I meant to mention this in the video but spaced it. As a result, there were some comments asking if my travel companion was my new girlfriend.  My compatriot to Siquijior this weekend is definitely not my girlfriend, nor – apparently – even interested in the slightest.  This probably has something to do with not being attracted to a 50 year old bald guy with wrinkly skin and a lingering aroma of aged cheese.  Well, that and having half the male population of Dumaguete City trying to court her.  I have known “Dana” for a few years.  She is a hard worker who helps support her family, busting her butt for six days a week at 250 pesos per nine-hour shift six days a week.  In a random conversation a few weeks back, I asked if she had ever been to Siquijior.  She hadn’t.  Sensing opportunity, I asked if she wanted to go and she (hesitantly) agreed just so long as her sister could meet me and see where I lived. (Family looking out for family.)  Dana is also pretty damn funny and helped out a lot during the trip, lugging around equipment and simply making things a lot easier.  So, all in all, it was my favorite thing in the world – a win-win for all involved. The only downside was that I tried to do too many things in too little time while on Siquijior.  Instead of madly riding from attraction to attraction (waterfalls, butterfly sanctuary, water parks, etc.), I should have taken more time to slow down to smell the roses…  Dana probably would have appreciated that as well.

Speaking of the Island of Witches, I will try to do a full article at some point going over the sites that we saw and how – in hindsight – I should have toned down the travel times.  If you really want to have a leisurely time on Siquijior, you really should spend three days/two nights at the minimum to see all there is (and not get exhausted riding all over the place).  

YouTube Channel Recommendation
Finally, I’d like to recommend the Frost Family YouTube channel.  They are a young couple who met in General Santos while the husband was in the military.  They later went through the K-1 fiance visa process, settled in the US and now have two adorable kids.  The wife now does most of the video work and she is pretty dang good.  She’s also a pretty amazing vocalist and has the nicest teeth I have EVER seen.  Check out their channel by clicking HERE.

If you’ve found what I do to be of some value, consider supporting the ongoing efforts on my Patreon site. Special thanks to all patrons, past and present including Sir Rico, Dan N., Tom D., 1Dir, Casey S., Dave H., Dale S., Sir Ahmed, Kevin F., and my lasts patrons, Donn and Merabel.



Last week’s trivia question:
With the new season of Stranger Things coming up, having finished reading “Ready Player One” (which references this question), AND seeing as how many of my friends back in the states are diving into the resurgence of Dungeons and Dragons, this week’s trivia question is:  This early D&D dungeon module (now considered a classic) was written by the creator of Dungeons and Dragons.  The high-level dungeon module featured a series of fiendish traps and adversaries and culminated in a battle with the dire arch-lich Acerack.  Steven W. guessed the correct answer, The Tomb of Horrors written by Gary Gygax and he received a free copy of my ebook, Chasing Your Philippine Dream: An Expat’s Guide to the Philippines.

This week’s trivia question:
A television show that piqued my own personal interest in the tropics featured a somewhat famous quote in its very first season: “We either live together or we die alone.”  I am reminded of this series whenever I see “Oceanic” shipping containers in the Philippine.  Someone already correctly answered that the show was “Lost” and Robert H. was just sent his free copy.

So that’s about it. Gotta go mow the lawn before the rain picks up again. 

Take care!



  1. Hey Ned,

    I’ve been a subscriber to your channel for a while now. Today is the first time I read your post rather than watch the video. I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but I prefer to read your posts rather than watch the videos. If you are curious as to why, you’ll have to ask me.

    I’m an American expat living in Thailand for 19 years. I empathize with many of the things you have to say about expatriate life. And, as you are relatively new to the expat thing, it is interesting to watch you go through the phases. Kudos to you for sticking with it. The first five years (and the first girlfriend) are the hardest.

    Eventually the line separating loneliness and freedom gets thinner and thinner until you embrace isolation like an old friend. For those of us who come from the over-socialized US, it can be hard to enjoy your own company. Keeping a tight group of kooky friends is a wonderful thing to have; the island of misfit boys. Anybody who manages to stay over here for a long stint have their own crew of like-minded idiots. Embrace that and protect it like a pit-bull.

    Additionally, I want to thank you for the hard work you put in on the sunrise pictures. Being from Florida, I know the difference between sunrise and sunset. East-coast boys like use prefer the sunrise eh? For me it’s just a more optimistic phenomena … kicking the day off properly.

    Thanks again for all your diligent work. It’s great entertainment and information. If I find myself in Negros someday, I’ll make sure you up and we can share a San Mig or three.

    Chod di!

    Bangkok Bart

  2. Ned,
    Hope to met next year. This Feb 2018, I enjoyed the Octagon on Wednesday night; and also a few visits to Bogarts ; guessing at a chance for met and photo.
    I was lucky to met a Cebu girlfriend on Facebook last December; she was an excellent travel partner for the 20+ days this February. The distant places we visited were El Dorado in Dauin, Forest Camp in Valencia, met Gloria and Bud at Quezon Park and Gaby’s, Orville H at Jamrock, Green Apple at Ayala in Cebu, Maayo Med in Mandaue, and overnights in guest nipa hut at a Foreigner in Jetafe and Talibon on Bohol.

    Next year I plan to obtain the SRRV visa. I learned from the PRA in Cebu, that with my DD 214 and other documents I may obtain the SRRV by making a $1,500 deposit in PRA escrow account.

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