This original article on Why Choose the Philippines was published some time back. I was not able to follow-up on it. I have updated and corrected errors and will be publishing a separate comparison article on my top choices within the next few days. Enjoy.
Why Choose the Philippines
One of the questions I have heard many times over the years is “why choose the Philippines”? This is usually in the context of, why not “country X” or “country Y” instead?
So far as foreign expatriates are concerned there are probably as many answers to that question as there are expats themselves, but today I am going to start a short series that compares some other countries against the Philippines in a few areas important to my own particular criteria for a happy retirement.
Your criteria will doubtless differ from mine … at least they should if you are a thinking person … but I’m doing this so that anyone thinking about living overseas,at any age, can gain some useful information to make their own decisions.
Why Choose the Philippines — Earning a Living
One particular thing which got me out of the starting block on this project is keeping track of things in my online money-making efforts. Of course I keep track of what web content makes me money in advertising revenue, and I frequently see ads for retiring in Malaysia .. even on sites I own other than PhilFAQS here.
Often these PPC ads (advertiser pays each time someone clicks on the ad) have been running for months, so it’s pretty apparent there is money to be made in helping people retire to the Philippines … or retire to some other country in lieu of the Philippines.
The message which I try to send, and which I live each and every day is, that now, in the year 2011, you do NOT need to earn a living based on where you chose to live.
Why Choose the Philippines — Choosing Countries to Compare
Next I gave some thought as to what countries to focus on. Depending on how you count, there are about 200 recognized countries in the world right now.
No way have I been to many of them and no way could I hope to acquire even cursory expertise on many of them. For personal reasons, I favor Asia .. I have lived full-time in three Asian countries (Philippines, Thailand and Japan) and traveled extensively in Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China. I’ve only lived briefly in two European countries and traveled a few more .. so this “study” if you will is going to be limited to a small part of Asia … where I do have hope of gaining a bit of expertise.
The part we are going to focus on are the ASEAN member countries. ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) (people often get confused, especially when this acronym is spoken rather than written .. it sounds a bit like but is not “Asian” … it is properly pronounced as As-E-An) has its start as SEATO right after WW II, a sort of Asian flavor of NATO.
It evolved from a military protective alliance in to a trade and co-existence organization over the years .. hence the name and structure change.
There are 10 member nations (in alphabetical order): Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR (commonly known as Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar (sometimes incorrectly called Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam.
I am not going to exhaust you or me by trying to write a report on each of these nation. I did write quite a bit and publish facts about ASEAN governments and currencies (in comparison to the US Dollar) here.
For the purposes of this study I am only going to focus on Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. I’ll also talk about two non-ASEAN locations that would be high on my list, for retirement and especially overseas earning, Hong Kong and Macau.
Others may prefer different choices, and I wish them their joys. The reasoning behind my picks are mainly personal, so draw no bad conclusions about places I don’t mention. They may in fact be a great choice for you … just not for me.
One interesting “take away” from this series … a question I have been asked many times is, “what country can my Filipino friend, fiancée, spouse, etc. travel to without obtaining a visa? Well here’s a quick and easy answer … a Filipino can travel to any of the other 9 ASEAN countries without obtaining a prior visa. Pretty good deal, in my view.
Here, to start things off, are thumbnail descriptions of our four proposed retirement countries:
In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957.
Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation.
The first several years of the country’s history were marred by a Communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore’s secession from the Federation in 1965. During the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on exports of raw materials to expansion in manufacturing, services, and tourism.
In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition.
In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control.
On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986, when a “people power” movement in Manila (“EDSA 1”) forced him into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development.
Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands.
Joseph Estrada was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in January 2001 after Estrada’s stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another “people power” movement (“EDSA 2”) demanded his resignation.
Macapagal-Arroyo was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from three terrorist groups on the US Government’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but in 2006 and 2007 scored some major successes in capturing or killing key wanted terrorists.
Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and on-again/off-again peace talks with another.
It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963 but separated two years later and became independent.
Singapore subsequently became one of the world’s most prosperous countries with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world’s busiest in terms of tonnage handled) and with per capita GDP equal to that of the leading nations of Western Europe.
nown as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power.
A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy.
In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US treaty ally following the conflict.
A military coup in September 2006 ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Chinnawat. The interim government held elections in December 2007 that saw the former pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party (PPP) emerge at the head of a coalition government.
The anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in May 2008 began street demonstrations against the new government, eventually occupying the prime minister’s office in August.
Clashes in October 2008 between PAD protesters blocking parliament and police resulted in the death of at least two people. The PAD occupied Bangkok’s international airports briefly, ending their protests in early December 2008 following a court ruling that dissolved the ruling PPP and two other coalition parties for election violations.
The Democrat Party then formed a new coalition government with the support of some of Thaksin’s former political allies, and Abhisit Wetchachiwa became prime minister.
Since January 2004, thousands have been killed as separatists in Thailand’s southern ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces increased the violence associated with their cause.
OK, that’s our area of focus. Next installment I will talk about the individual criterion I used when making my decision. You are more than welcome to suggest to me things you would like to know in your own decision-making process. (please don’t ask about cost of living, I will cover that in some detail), and I have also presented recent cost of living information in the article referenced above and this one about the relative costs in this article (hint, the Big Mac Index covers them all).
Why Choose the Philippines?