Advice About Living in the Philippines and Happiness

Got a great email in overnight that leads me directly to something I have said before and need to say again.  Several points, actually.

I was in Cebu in 2008. I met somebody there.  A poor girl, part of a large family.  They have a fishing operation that barely supports them.  I wanted to stay there, but my visa expired.  I am not rich.  It is my dream to return to Cebu and my girl for ever.  I love her and she wants me to come "home". 

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

I am sickened by my country’s lack of family values and morals.  My country makes war where ever they can just to create jobs.  I feel in my heart that I just can not stay in the USA.  I have seen a better life.  A life where people that have nothing are happy.  They laugh, sing, take care of each other, and most of all, they love life and thank God for what they have, and never cry about what they don’t have.  It truly was the most enlightening experience of my life to be in Cebu, and 4 years later I do not feel at home here. I would rather be dirt poor with my girl and her family, then to be here.  The big problem is that I am not rich.  Do you have any advise for me?

The first point I want to make is, stop equating work 9as in a job with living in the Philippines.  jobs for foreigners here, especially in the provinces, are a losing proposition.  Start reading here if you don’t know why. 10 Reasons You Don’t Want a Job in the Philippines .  There are plenty more articles like that I have written.

I know Americans have conditioned by government propaganda for a hundred years now that life revolves around a J*O*B … life is a job, your job is your life.

Well, that’s OK if you want to keep trudging along that path, but it’s also bullshit of the first degree.  It’s one way to live, but then again it is far from the only way to live.

Let’s review the bidding here a little.  The US of A.  Great country.  My country.  Your country.  Best country in the world (IMO, of course, my readers from other great countries are all entitled to their own opinions too). 

How did the UES get started?  Some big powerful country just “birthed” the USA like a mother having a child?  hardly.

The US, which was nothing much but wilderness and a few towns and a heck of a lot of ramshackle log cabins in the words, was carved out by people who refused th3e ‘status quo” and decided to go their own way.  There were several hundred thousand of them, depending on how you wan to count, but let’s just say 56 of the most important and influential were the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Do you know what they did for a living?  Do you suppose any of them knew what their J*O*B would be after they did what they had done?  Hardly.

I went looking , thinking it would be a real history research task to find out their occupations, but as usual, some good souls had already done the hard work … Google is a marvelous tool, for those who bother to use it, that is. 

Signers of The Declaration of Independence

How many of them do you see who actually had a “Job”?  Not many. (and remember in those days a lawyer didn’t even need a degree, doctors mostly worked by themselves out of their own homes, and many of the “land owners” and other entrepreneurial types left England as poor outcasts and became “owners” of the land by carving it out of the wilderness).

What the hell happened to us in 236 years?  Do you think many of them sat around in England, unhappy with their lot, reading the want ads day after day and submitting résumés’ and CV’s and such until they got selected for a job?

Were Americans smarter 236 years ago?  Well I don’t know, but we certainly have nearly infinitely more educational (formal and informal) resources than they did.

Were Americans more courageous then?  Again, I can’t say, but I hardly think volunteers who risked life and limb in the Revolutionary war were that much braver than Americans who sign up today to serve in endless wars around the lobe, getting themselves blown up for a nebulous cause of a War on Terror (whatever the hell that may be).

So what is the difference?  I am not smart enough to say, but I know that we, as Americans have NEVER had more opportunities to make ourselves independent of the servitude and restrictions of a J*O*B than today.. I write and write and write real-world success stories here that prove my point, how many have you read?

Another View On The “Set The Family Up In Business in the Philippines” Issue  

Online Business Philippines — No English Teaching Allowed  

Does Anyone Understand What a Business Is?

That’s just a few to get you thinking and more importantly, GOING.  there are many more gifted writers than I to look at as well.

You mentioned several times in your email that you were “not rich”.  I’ll say just two things about that:

  1. I hope you don’t think that by contrast you think I am rich.  Hardly, my friend, hardly.  In fact “being rich” and coming to the Philippines expecting to live off your riches is pretty much a recipe for becoming poor.
  2. If you are not rich, and you want to become rich, then just do so.  The only reason you are not rich today is the person who typed the email.  Especially as an American, living in America, there has NEVER been a more opportune time to ‘become rich” … but a J*O*B is not the way to become rich.  It’s like playing roulette in the casino, the odds are against you and the “house” (your employer) will always win over time.

Now, I said I had two points to make, and I spent a lot of time on point number one.  here is point number two, short and sweet:

happiness in AmericaPhoto Credit: wallyg via photo pin cc

 Moving to the Philippines will NOT make you happy if you are as unhappy as you seem to be by your words.   You will always be an American.  Does our country have ills and issues  Oh you bet, I could write a book on them.  Does the Philippines have ills and issues?  Oh yes, for sure, I could write a book on them as well.  (difference being I could get deported for writing what I’d like to say about the Philippines … foreigners do not have free speech here).  But what can one man do?

Well one thing we can do, which costs absolutely nothing and requires no investment of time is, “be happy in thine own self”.  I think that line came from the Sopranos.   Did you ever watch the Sopranos on HBO?  Remember one of Tony’
s many girlfriends, the Russian lady with one leg, Svetlana?  She had a line that has always stuck in my mind about Americans and happiness …

Something like: You Americans expect life to be good, and so they’re always upset when it isn’t, while people in the rest of the world expect life to be bad, and “they are not disappointed”.

Be happy in who you are and what you do with your life.  The rest of the bullshit will always be there, no matter where you live.  Moving will not make you happy, because … “Wherever you go, there you are”.  The reason your girlfriend and her family are happy with their very meager circumstances and you are not is not because they are Filipino.  It’s because they have made a conscious decision to be happy with what they have.  You have that capability as well, let no one tell you differently.  Godspeed.


  1. John Trueman says

    “What can one man do?”

    It’s a good job that Abraham Lincoln didn’t think that way.

    • says

      Hi john, so what’s the alternative you suggest. A one-man battle to save the Union? Virtually every unhappy foreigner I have come across in more than 10 years at this game id unhappy becuase they are on some sort of campaign to “fix” something in the Philippines … and gaining no traction.

      My message is not to do nothing, my message is to do things within your own span of control to make yourself “mentally” well, becuase an unhappy, dissatisfied man as the fellow who wrote the original article can never accomplish much. Of course, anyone who wants to battle with the universe because of the ‘way things are” is perfectly happy to do so.

      Be well.

  2. SergeDavao says

    most of the foreigners americans i see are old folks, which means they get high in local ranks pension like $1k a month, so it’s not point for them to work here, harder for younger ones , as u say, its not the place to get jobs

    • says

      Hi Serge, well as one of those old folks I too am earning from a pension. I see nothing wrong with “old folks” empowering their retirement as well … not falling into the trap of being the poor old pensioner totally in tire grip of whatever the government’s generosity might be.

      Bit I do say, don’t become a further burden on the Philippines by trying to “horn in” and get “your share”, becuase you really have no share.

      There are so many legal, legitimate ways to live in the Philippines while earning elsewhere that it just makes no sense to swim against the stream.

  3. Jane says

    i find this place a very cool one to stay…
    i was searching for their website but it is still under maintenance, i wish to know more facts.. anyway, i will share if there is already… they have their website.. it was a great place to live.. more refreshing the baguio.. so cool… please visit and like.. pretty cool..

  4. says

    I moved to the P back in1999, met my wife through a pen pal letter she sent me, I placed one little ad on a local paper there and got thousands of replies, No i did not go through all, many were from schools where the teachers had them write to brush up on there English, but hundreds and hundreds were from legit ladies wishing and looking for a husband. i opened a few dozen and narrowed it down to three, my wife was the third one.. I did meet the other two and one was gold digger the other a sweetheart too, but to young, third was the best.. if ur coming to the p at least have backups. or the traditional way pick them while ur here.. just never leave your belongings alone, all it takes is one time and one girl fast on her toes will wipe u out.. it happens all to frequently.. The ladies in the P are just beautiful and passionate, when u find the right one.. as i did.. I love the Philippines, but before anyone thinks they can adjust u better think twice.. I’ve seen so many foreigners sell out and move here only to get frustrated and leave.. the humidity and heat and other things here get to them, you come here to retire, live a simple life and enjoy yourself.. U need lots of patience to live here… as you’ll pull your hair out and have a heart attack doing anything other than there normal process. so be warned.. Your gonna see so many different ethnic groups here, Americans, British,Germans, Aussies, Koreans,Chinese, the ones i see having a difficult time here is the Germans, there hot headed and the locals do not like them. If u cannot control your mouth its gonna be your downfall.
    Have the utmost respect for the locals, and they will in-turn respect u, just do not trust them completely, even if relatives they will steal, would u not if you only made 2 dollars a day, for 12 hour shift, think about it there just trying to get by. Now on to putting up a business in the P.

    Putting up a Business in the P, is by far alot easier than the States. The red tape is non existent, It does help very much so to have a sweetheart of a wife that is Filipina and is aggressive, In manila it was very easy to open several cafe’s and as long as ur there to babysit the employees, u will make monies.. but u not only have to babysit the E, you have to watch out for the groups that enter and distract the help and pick up everything from cellphones to cash lying behind the counter. Then if watch out for the relatives as they will steal u blind as well, and there imaginative, if there s a way they will con sieve it. We left the big city and moved to the Province where life is alot more simpler, and even less red tape.. we now operate a Hardware store catering to foreigners and locals, bad thing about local stock is its crap, but is all the locals can afford, so is why we catered to foreigners. and selling higher end stock.. The Philippines is still 20-30 years behind the mentality of how business should be run, now take the Chinese these guys can run a business. U still need to watch for the employees and the occasional theft, but its easier to handle if your living above the store which is excatly what we have done…

    • says

      Great stuff, Michael. As you can see you had so much to contribute here … thanks … I made it into a whole separate article .. should roll out the door tomorrow.

      • Alfred Bejosano says

        Philly! how bout we go for a few beers! just moved to Manila from Cali at first I was homesick and now I see the Layback life feels like there’s less to worry then it is in US…it’s more fun in the Philippines…and it’s true!

        • says

          @ Alfred Bejosano

          Thanks for writing in. Didn’t you just write a short while back about help in finding a job here in the Philippines? I hope you’ve come down to earth and got that idea out of your head.

          I have no objection to a meet-up (although I seldom drink), but I don’t travel to Manila unless I am basically forced to. Where in Manila are you, it’s a big place?

          I live in Marilao, Bulacan, ever been out this way? It’s only one jeep ride or one FX ride from TriNoMa or Monumento at the en dof the LRT.

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