I want to start a business in the Philippines. Day in and day out these queries come to me. How do I start a business in the Philippines? I want to live in the Philippines with my girl friend, please tell me what business we can start to support ourselves. I really know how to cook delicious Mexican food, think I can open a restaurant and support my family in the Philippines?
And on and on they go. My answer is almost invariably the same. Don’t do it. Live here in the Philippines, by all means, I’ve been here for going on 9 years now and I love it. But make your living elsewhere, from the rest of the world, so to speak.
But I’m Smart, Dave, You’re Dumb
But still many people ignore what I say … I guess they think I’m just being flippant or else I’m a crank and unable to realize just how things will be different for “them”, because they “know” they will succeed at a business which earns from the Philippines.
OK fine. Go for it. I’m just a grouchy old man, uneducated (dropped out of both high school and also the US Ponzi scheme of college) and I’m a bona fide curmudgeon. Set in my ways.
But Trust Me On One Thing — The Philippines Is Smarter Than Both Of Us
All this and more may be true, but here’s a couple real-life tales of foreigners starting business in the Philippines you might want to read .. just to expand your scope of understanding.
I came across this great report by Gen San Chris just recently while I was looking for another article of his. It is so appropriate. It tells the story well, and it directly parallels the story of many other business efforts I know of from first hand experience.
Give it a read if you want to know what building a business as a foreigner is really like here.
This quote I thought particularly appropriate:
… For some reason, everyone was against this hotel, Congressmen and Senators, the local Governor who had no hotel in his province and even a well-known celebrity who had a program on Mindanao even stated something like, How can this foreign person hope to open an hotel which will be too expensive for the local Filipinos to enjoy. This was a bit two-faced of her as her family own the biggest Resort in Davao and local people definitely cannot afford that place.
Anyway, everything seemed to go wrong for the owner….
Why do you suppose everyone seemed to be against the hotel project (which would have benefited so many Filipino people?
I can’t say for certain but I truly believe the seeds of the problem are contained here in this editorial:
It really did not matter that the political hierarchy could have thought about building the hotel long before the foreigner came along.
It really did not matter that there are plenty of rich Filipinos who could have built the hotel for themselves long before the foreigner threw his heart and soul and personal financial resources into the project.
What seems to matter is that the foreigner was somehow mocking and “showing up” powerful people in the Philippines … even if he himself might have been the kindest and most polite man on the planet.
Here you can very easily insult people JUST by being “You”, so it’s always ever so much better to just keep quiet, keep your head down and if you want to “build something”, well, build it outside the Philippines.
The Crab Mentality Can Even Be Deadly
Remember I told you earlier on that the failed hotel story is eerily similar to one I have first hand knowledge of?
I had a friend named Dr. Don (not his real name,he sill has relatives here and I don’t want to offend them or possibly put them in danger).
Well Dr. Don and his Filipino wife came from the USA to a town very close t me in Bulacan province. Right outside the formal border of Metro Manila. We’re not taking about some sleepy, far off province in the “Wild, Wild West” here.
Dr. Don’s wife was an excellent cook and they both wanted to “do something for the “Filipino people”. (heard anyone say that before? 🙁
So they leased (at a very expansive rate), a commercial building in the city and spent several millions of pesos equipping a modern kitchen, finishing the floors and walls and buying tables, chairs and other restaurant accouterments, and hiring and training a sizable number of local Philippine citizens as kitchen and wait staff.
It took a while but finally the great day of the grand opening arrived. The restaurant began to fill with happy customers and life seemed well worth living.
But before closing time on opening night. Dr. Don and his wife noticed people suddenly were not coming in any longer. Going outside they observed that the street the restaurant was on had been blocked off with barricades at both ends and guards posted to prevent even pedestrians from walking down the block.
Long Story Short
Even though Din’s wife was (or thought she was) a close friend of the city mayor, after weeks running on to months of inquiries, complaints, pleadings, etc., nothing could be done.
The story was, the street will be closed due to hazardous conditions until the scheduled contract for repaving was accomplished in about 10 MONTHS!
I really don’t know and will never know the real reason the street closure happened. Obviously someone pissed someone off. Most likely the issue was the foreigner, and the foreigner’s wife, were just too “mouthy” and sure of themselves and “insulting to the Filipino people” just by being who they were. Being “”normal” people and being “show-offs”.
And don’t forget, through no fault of their own, dozens of existing Filipino business owners were also sever;y affected by the street closure, which most people blamed on Dr. Don and his wife. They found themselves with very, very few friends, almost overnight.
The Bitter End
This happened several years ago. The restaurant is still there, open and doing a nice business, with a different owner (who got a great modern US-style professional kitchen when he rented the place, of course. The street is open, and of course it has never been repaved.
Dr. Don’s Dual Citizen (US/Filipino) wife went back to the US to support herself according to the story I was told.
And Dr. Don? Well, not long after the restaurant was forced to close, his body was found alongside his pickup truck outside of town. Cause of death? A single 9mm round through the temple from a handgun found at the scene. The gun was (illegally) registered to Dr. Don and the Philippine National Police, after a through investigation, ruled the event a suicide.
Allegedly, when asked why the weapon was found about 3 meters (10 feet) from Dr. Don’s hand, the police investigator stated “Recoil. Case closed.”
So are you still interested in starting a Business in the Philippines.