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.




  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!

    1. More Fun In The Philippines
      That is a relative statement. There are piles of trash and noise pollution (Videoke) singing all nite without any regard for anyone elses freedoms. When the word gets out that most beaches here are polluted like Barocay I think people will have second thoughts on coming here which will decimate this tourist industry.
      Enforcing regulations on noise nuisance is hampered by the very same traits that Filipinos extoll: camaraderie, fun-loving and “kaikog,” which does not have an exact translation in English. Although many Cebuanos share the trait “kaikog,” some forget it during celebrations or think that neighbors would be understanding enough.
      No it is not more fun in the Philippines and they dont seem to really care.

  2. “The one who only takes fun for fun, and seriously seriously, he and she, have actually gotten both badly.”
    Piet Hein

  3. 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

  4. I didn’t comment on this one either, it was obviously just a fun photo with several others including the one with your scraped nose. Anyone who has followed you, Ned, would know that, as you always toss in an attempt at levity. We love that with you of course!…Your message within this write up is clear however, but maybe listen to your own words a bit too? It isn’t so bad there that you leave…..

    Where is Sgt. Kelly? Send this Private Kelly back to training!

  5. 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 . . .

  6. How true it is Ned I could not have said it better and to John Ziegler I have not had to use that acronym yet in the 10 years I have been here but one never knows I might need it someday. Cheers from Marinduque

  7. 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

  8. I’ve been visiting the Philippines 12 years or so. And plan to make it my home base. I finally came to the truth of the matter that the Philippines is indeed a third world country. I don’t even like the way that sounds, when I say it, but at this point I think it is the truth. Your summarization of the Philippines possessing beautiful world class beaches…and to get to those beaches one is forced to waddle through trash, pollution and sometimes an indignity or two. That summed up my relevation in one sentence. The friendship I have with the Philippines can be correlated as with being in a new relationship. The first six or seven months of the romance, everything is wonderful. After a period of time all those cute little odd things that your partner has continued to do…all you can think is getting a cattle prod and try to relieve her of those cute little odd actions.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!!!

  12. I enjoyed 4 wonderful weeks : Lunch at El Dorado in Dauin, Forest Camp near Velencia, Octagon on Valentines Day evening, Bogarts, Jamrock, etc. , etc places in Dumaguete, and 13 days in Cebu where a new girl friend met me at the airport. The only thing that I didn’t adjust to is all the trash burning which irritated my throat. I plan to apply to the PRA for the SRRV Courtesy visa using my DD214. It’s like a perpetual indefinite visa for $1,500 USD deposite, plus a $1,400 fee.
    And two days Jetafe / Talibon, Bohol
    Flannery Wak Wak; and guests on Paradise hill, Bohol island, Philippines

  13. Ned…a little off topic…. it Merabel told me she saw you at Ceres bus station in Mabinay on Monday morning. She was on a bus waiting to go to Kabankalan.

    She was too shy to get off to say hello.

    We are both glad you didn’t suffer any serious injuries this trip….our town doesn’t need any more bad publicity LOL.

    Hope things going well for you and Lynn….both of you take care.

  14. 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

  15. Ned ,
    Thank you and the other YouTube bloggers ; That gave inspiration to visit the Cebu, Dauin, Bacong, Valencia, Dumaguete, and Bohol area last month, Feb 2018.
    I adapted well; except for all the trash burning that irritates my throat.
    I plan to return for about 3 months each year. I renewed my USA passport and plan to apply for the SRRV courtesy visa through the Philippine Retirement Authority.
    My DD214 helps qualifying me for the courtesy option.
    The SRRV gives perpetual Multiple entry privileges. And other benefits , and assistance for other documents.
    Thanks again to bloggers information that led me enjoy a 4 week Adventure in the central Visayas islands.

  16. 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.

  17. Ned, I’m roughly 32 plus years ahead of you in the pinay learning curb. I little advice that involves the big head and not the little head.. Stop with the girls born during the Clinton administration and find a pinay born during the Carter administration … Screwing chicks half your age or more and believing you’re not paying for it is ignorant … a few years stationed in the PI while in the military would have done you wonders. Unfortunately, most, if not all expats today are Youtube and internet search influenced. One more bit of advice ….. The worst and most damaging lies, are the ones you tell yourself…

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. Hi,

    I visit the Philippines a lot since I met a filipino in the UK 7 years ago then married her 5 years ago. Almost 2 years ago, I divorced her. Until the day we married she was the nicest sweetest person on earth. Since the day after our wedding day, our honeymoon to the philippines she changed. Jekyl & hyde come to mind.
    for the next 3 years I fought hard to keep the marriage going and was taken for so much.
    The struggles I went through, the fighting and the stress was all too much for me in the end. So I chose to divorce her (we were married and divorced in the UK)

    The only good thing that came out of it, I have fallen in love with the Phillipines and the filipino culture. Since my divorce I have returned 4 times so far and will continue coming back. But like someone else said, Its the provinces, not the cities or big towns.
    I have found the people and culture in the provinces so much better than the city areas. ( my ex was from a big city in Luzon)
    I have stayed in all sorts of places, mountainside nipa houses, locals type rented accomodations, even in the squater areas outside manilla and made new friends all over the Phillipines now. I am always made to feel so welcome wherever I go in the provincial areas.
    The squater areas are dodgy for us foreigners, but I got to know a couple of families in them and was well looked after during my stay there.

    I find it strange, that the people with almost nothing in the provinces, want for nothing and are the happiest people I meet. And mostly they are very honest too. I have only come across one guy that I would consider real bad.
    I do intend to move to the Philippines myself, and I know it will definately be in a provincial area and likely either in Cebu or southern Palawan. (I did consider a small island for a while like Pamilican south of Bohol but the total lack of water from a tap might be too much :)) )

    In total I have spent about 18 months in the Philippines now, usually 4 weeks at a time. I have travelled a considerable amount but 3 places I repeatedly visit are Cebu Palawan and Bohol.
    I actually now always rent a locals type room/apartment in a very small town, if you can call it a town 🙂 on Cebu that I use as a base for my visits. It will likely be around there that I will end up moving to as I have got to know the area so well. ideally a couple of kilometer from the town.

    Anyway, I have met another woman in the Philippines, considerably younger than myself I met her on my first trip back to the Philippines after my divorce and kind of started dating about a year ago now. She appears totally different to my ex.
    Even when I am there visiting she is content with her ‘normal’ life, she asks for nothing, wants to do nothing more than ensure I am comfortable. She isnt in any sort of rush to better herself or earn or get lots of money like most I have met from the cities. As long as she has food to put in her mouth 3 times a day plus the merianda then she is happy.

    I am hoping she wont change and things work out for us after my previous bad experience.
    And I hope that you find a more relaxed and laid back way of living there too without the struggles and stresses.

      1. Well I’m still dating the same woman I was when I wrote this and have since been back 2 or 3 times. Hopefully she will be coming here to visit me in the next few weeks she has a visa application in currently and expects an answer within the next 7 to 10 days 😉

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