Life in the Philippines on a Comparative Basis – Part 1: The Good

Here at My Philippine Dreams, I try to objectively present the good, the bad and the occasionally ugly of living in the Philippines as an expatriate.  Most recently, I put up an article talking about the reason I (and other porenyers) love Dumaguete. Also recently posted, however, was my take on lower cost of living/lower quality of life in the Philippines that explored some of the challenges of living here.  Add to that an article on foreigners being murdered in the Philippines (RIP Ted and Phil), and you can see that I am making an attempt to be fair and balanced as possible.

This article is coming from an unknown source.  In it he talks about his personal experiences with the good and balances it afterward with the bad (which I will post up tomorrow).  Note that all of the photographs are my own and were taken on a trip to Bayawan last month.

I am not sure where exactly I got this article – it most probably was sent to me by a subscriber.  Whatever the source, he presents an interesting take on his particular experiences in the Philippines.  What follows is his personal musings, with only a modicum of editing for grammar and spelling. (I’ll be popping in with my own italicized comments every now and then.)

Living in the Philippines

We all have our complaints about the living situation in the Philippines. I am one of the complainers in a big way. But I have put things in perspective on a comparative basis and that keeps me relatively happy. Here are some of things that I think about very often:

+ Let’s face it guys, where else in the world would this be possible? My wife is 36 years younger than me and is one of the most attractive women not only in the Philippines, but the world. It didn’t come easy keeping her but it’s worth it. If I was in my country this would not be possible – a woman of her age and appearance wouldn’t even look at me. She wouldn’t need to as she would be mobbed by men even younger than her.

+ If I was back in the US, I would be faced with obese, post-menopausal, dried up retirees with nothing to talk about but the past and pensioners benefits and taking their medications three times a day.

[Ned: You actually hear this argument a lot from guys who are obese, post-past-their-prime, dried up retirees.  🙂]

+ She likes a simple life, time with her Facebook account, watching TV and going out a few days a week. If I was back home, my partner would be reading all day, watching weather reports and planning trips to Arizona in the winter.

[Ned: I would place more faith in reading all day instead of updating Facebook status and watching TV, but that’s just me.]

When I met her three years ago she could hardly cook an egg. Now, because cooking is my hobby and I am an ex-nutritionist, she loves to cook all the healthy things I have taught her.

Being thrifty. She used to call me kuripot, cheap, but now she has learned the reasoning in how I spend and has learned about limits.

Filipinas are smart not stupid.

+ I like to drink beer. Two or three liters a day, in my country this would cost 60 bucks. Here it costs me about 200 pesos ($5 USD).

+ I drive a motorcycle. If I was in my country I would already be in jail multiple times from breathalyzer tests.  No freedom where I come from and super taxation on alcohol. Really bullshit laws too. It’s my head that’s at risk.  If I want to drive without a helmet that’s my choice not theirs.  In the US, the police will even give you a fucking fine for driving a bicycle with no helmet.  I’m not joking. Unbelievable.

[Ned:  Don’t drink and drive.  Here or anywhere. And sometimes governments have to have drunk driving and helmet laws in place in order to protect people against their own bad decision making.]

+ Here I can live a basic happy and healthy life for $2,000 a month, which includes a lot of things that would not be possible back home like going out to drink cheap but good beer, taking very inexpensive public transportation, eating in good restaurants for $10 for two people, going to the gym for .50 cents a time – all the things that cost much, much more back in the United States. 

[Ned: $2,000 a month is a good amount of money to be spending here.  The author might have kids, though, in which case that would make sense.]]

+ 40 pesos for a haircut. How much back in the US?  Twenty bucks?

+ I’m a long distance swimmer – I used to do triathlons – so this is a perfect place for me. I swim a mile three times a week in the ocean at a beautiful resort for free, twelve months of the year. If the tide is wrong I go to another beautiful resort that has a chlorinated 25 meter pool and do my lengths there, for $1.20 a day. Can’t lose in this tropical climate.

+ I love to eat fish.  Here there are hundreds of varieties available in the local markets: Shrimp for 200p/kg, dorado or pandawan for 140/kg, squid for 200/kg, malasugi or swordfish for 250/kg, tanigui or barracuda 250/kg, lapu-lapu, maya-maya… all at incredibly low prices. Where I come from one piece, one meal of any kind of fish is about 600 pesos or about 3000p/kg and there aren’t nearly the selection that you have here.

+ If I have electrical problems like a bad plug, in a few minutes I have someone fix it for a dollar. Back in the US an appointment is scheduled days later and costs $60/hr. Plumber, gardener the same. Any kind of things that need fixing are done here in a flash. Back home you are faced with bullshit union wages, overcharging and waiting forever for the guy to show up.

+ Eating and drinking anywhere is possible here. Back home even if you are in a park they will take your beer and pour it out, even arrest you.

[Ned:  Now I know what all those cup holders hanging from motorbike handlebars are for….]

+ Here at immigration I can talk to a live person in five minutes.  When I try to talk to a human at my embassy it is almost impossible – I can’t even get a visitor’s visa for my wife! We applied two times, wasted three hundred dollars and didn’t even get a reason for refusal. Just the same email over and over – please check our website blah, blah, blah. At immigration here I get answers in minutes.

+ Back home there is the constant feeling of being old: Ads on TV, wheel chair friendly this and that, wheelchair sidewalks, handicapped friendly washrooms, pension this and that, hundreds of life insurance commercials. Here you just fight and do your best.

+ I hate tipping; it’s ridiculous to always feel pressured when I leave an establishment. Here no pressures – no tipping necessary.

[Ned: Don’t be so kuripot!  A small tip (20p) for decent service is a nice gesture.]

+ I drive a 125cc Honda that cost me 53000 ($1,060 USD).  It’s a really basic bike, almost the same as my first motor in 1968, a Honda S90. It has drum brakes, chain drive, spoke wheels…really feels good, really solid and well made. I get it tuned up every 6 months for 200p ($5). Back home they are all big monster bikes, with ultra-modern features, oversized engines and price tags to match. Tune ups in the US? Forget it! It’s going to cost hundreds of dollars – really ridiculous prices and upkeep because they are so bloody complicated.

[Ned: Yep, smaller bikes are perfect in the Philippines.  Even the guys with big bikes here usually have a scooter that they use most of the time.]

In the next part, our unknown author will be addressing all the negatives that he sees about life here.  And even though he says everything balances out, he spends 2,000 words addressing spitting, shouting, stray dogs and “Hey Joe’s” and only 1,000 words talking about the things he likes. 

Stay tuned – Fellow Dreamers – the stunning conclusion will be up soon!



  1. I can agree with most of what this guy has written, but I’m surprised that he didn’t know how hard it is to get a U.S. tourist visa for his wife. He could have saved hundreds of dollars and lots of time just by knowing that fact. I agree with Ned about tipping: leaving a small tip is a good thing. Glad you’re back on-line, Ned! We missed you!

  2. Yup, sounds like most of the foreign guys I have seen here and in other developing country’s I have been to.

    Drunk immature and driving crazy in the streets.
    Cheap bastards who do not tip the waitress who by the way areseriously being under pained and over worked with long hours and and no benifits by a restaurant owner who is also a foreigner.
    For the bastards this is considered the good.
    For the waitress, the plumber, the workers and his or girlfriend thus is consider as the worst.

  3. I always find people’s perspective on their life here in the Philippines interesting and usually somewhat revealing about their own personality. I often agree and disagree with almost all. This gentleman in my humble opinion would do well to follow Ned’s advice on the drinking and driving. And I feel wearing a helmet is critical here due to the crazy driving habits. It’s like an “All Skate” at the roller rink with people going all directions at once. That said I enjoy riding my 150 Yamaha (Would not want a big bike here…well maybe a 400 on a small frame but not my Gold Wing I had in the US) which has more clearance than the scooters and I find every journey a video game adventure. And for the most part I enjoy the free-for-all driving style especially in heavy traffic since weaving in and out is the norm. For those who struggle with road rage my advice is take a trike! Like this gentleman I like the cheap prices in the service industry….I get my haircut for 60p but always give him 200. Ned’s 20p tip advice is right on otherwise for me as well. The same cut in the states was $25. Cable, internet, water and trash are a lot cheaper here than the states I have 50mbps and about 150 channels including HBO’s,Cinemax and several HD channels and pay just over 3000p per month…about $60. I know… ok I know…I can get it a lot cheaper but I feel the need for speed! In the states I was paying $80 just for the same internet speed alone. And cell phone service here is super cheap although frustrating at times getting that ever elusive signal (At home I have to go upstairs). In the area of construction such as electrical, carpentry, plumbing and welding etc I have been fortunate to find a contractor who does better quality work so I pay a bit more but things are done right and he knows I am picky. I was in the construction industry for 45 plus years. Here in Angeles caution and patience are the first two words in the book of women. There are many to choose from and as stated they can be beautiful and exotic. I am lucky to have found a great girl….smart…pretty and most importantly not a player. I look forward to the rest of the gentleman’s thoughts to come. And along with many I am happy you are back, Ned.

  4. The one thing I see over and over in these articles…”It’s all a matter of perspective”…wherever one chooses to live in this world there will be good and bad…

  5. My perspective is one of a man who after 1.5 years will have his fiancee and her 7 year old daughter legally in USA. our plan is to probably retire in PH, opening a B&B a small cafe by the water. We shall see. My take on the esteemed author is that he ought to watch his alcohol intake and what he does under the influence. just sayin’…. At 67 going on 35, Caucasian women are not for me. But my 43 year old, beautiful highly intelligent, fluent, educated and, yes, hot as hell chef is my soulmate, the love of my life. Mabuhay!

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