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Expats in the Philippines: Why They Migrate and Marry Locals

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Expats in the Philippines: Why They Migrate and Marry Locals

Post by Winston » August 6th, 2012, 10:39 am

An author emailed me this article from his book to post here.

"Hi Winston,

Below is a short article on Western expats in the Philippines which you are welcome to use on your site. It is from a new book of mine. If you do decide to use the piece, please include the plug from the book.


R Howard"

Western Expats in the Philippines: Why They Migrate and Marry Locals and How it all Works Out

By R. Howard

(Extract from “Islands in the Orient Sea: Travels in the Edgy Twenty-First Century Philippinesâ€￾ by R. Howard. $3.99. ISBN: 978-1-938296-59-8. Ebook published in 2012 and available from and Apple ibooks. Available at: )

“People used to say that I was crazy to live outside the United States. But I do not get that much these days.â€￾ Internet poster.

The Philippines increasingly is drawing adventurous Western settlers. Optimistic books and websites advise how to relocate to a Margaritaville fantasyland just over the rainbow, where Western men do not lead lives of quiet desperation.

Some migrants first visited as tourists or were stationed at one of the huge, now-defunct U.S. military bases north of Manila, and they stayed on in a perceived enchanted land. Some are retirees, cashed up baby-boomers redefining the Agolden years@ and, like others of their ilk, flocking to greener pastures overseas. Some foreign residents go for the tropical climate, active street life, friendly people and low living costs. Some see their Western homelands as cold, unfriendly, politically-correct, precarious surveillance societies, whose frenzied 21st Century hyper-capitalism is working many people to death. Some expats flee rampant individualism and growing incivility in the West. Some foreign males, perhaps unable to adjust to assertive, career-driven women at home, are drawn by the ready availability of attractive, feminine, traditional partners.

Living in one’s favorite holiday destination usually turns out to be a quite different experience from visiting it for a few weeks each year. One often must work instead of play and the reality behind the tourist facade eventually becomes apparent.

Expats have a long history in the Philippines and always have fraternized enthusiastically with the locals. Before 1972, Manila had a large American colony. Many Westerners lived in colonial splendor in Makati and other enclaves, with large household staffs of helpers, nannies, and drivers. The men managed companies or were linked to the American military. Life revolved around in-group social activities. But their Western wives often had little to do, perhaps having abandoned their own careers in the United States. They were prone to boredom and overuse of gin. The marriages could get shaky due to their spouses’ long working hours and the ever- available, attractive Filipinas. Many American men succumbed to Filipina charms but the Western community did disapprove of such marriages. The men were designated “squawmenâ€￾ and only were invited to social functions alone, if at all.

That world mostly has vanished. Many expats went home but some found that they never could. Home had changed and they had changed. Some floated around other expat jobs elsewhere in Asia.

I informally conversed with expats who had lived in-country for a median six years. All were male, with a median age of 49, and were from the United States, U.K., or Australia. Half were retirees, living on pensions and investments, most held at least a bachelor’s degree and most were married to or lived with a Filipina. About a third lived Manila, others in Cebu City, Angeles City, Davao, Dumaguete, Iloilo City, and elsewhere. Two without Filipina partners lived in Angeles City, one actually stating that the dismal city’s temptations unduly challenged the noble institution of marriage.

Why specifically had they moved to the Philippines? Low living costs predominated. .

Motive Percent citing this motive

Low living costs 77%
Pace of life/lifestyle 50
Climate 38
Filipina partner wanted to return 31
Liking of Filipino culture 19
Dislike home country 15
Availability of attractive sexual partners 15
To take up a job arranged overseas 12

Some gave further reasons; “Adventure, fun...â€￾, “beautiful countryside, new life adventure, love and marriageâ€￾, “Much greater personal ... freedom than in the West. There may be some rules and regulations you don’t want to flout. But it is not a nanny state like Australiaâ€￾.

Most still were happy with their shift, with 81% saying they still would move there if given the choice again, and 58% would stay even if they won U.S. $10 million in a lottery. However, two said they would return home in the latter circumstance. Most (58%) planned to stay for life (“I will never return to the United Statesâ€￾, said one emphatically) although the rest were less certain (“Currently revisiting retirement plans. Day - to -day living can be difficult [here]â€￾).

What did they miss least about life in the West? Some comments were; “Stress, high taxes, feeling lonely, hurry up lifestyleâ€￾, “Too many controls on personal freedomsâ€￾, and “Suffocating political correctnessâ€￾.

What did they like most about living in the Philippines? Some comments were; “Very friendly peopleâ€￾, “Life is slow and easy-goingâ€￾, “The lack of stifling rules and regulationsâ€￾ and “Opportunities arising from a low cost of living. A feeling of freedom and lack of restrictionsâ€￾.

A total of 88% rated their well-being in-country as good or excellent, 73% felt personally accepted by Filipinos, and 88% felt that the acceptance of foreigners in general was good or excellent. Most (77%) had a good or excellent knowledge of local culture, but some did not want to learn any more about it. However, while 38% socialized mostly with Filipino friends, 31% did mostly with other foreigners. One socialized mostly with “Other foreign friends and their Filipino partnersâ€￾.

But life was not all rosy. What did they like least? Three dislikes were quite familiar to me; “The foodâ€￾, “Driving here is dangerousâ€￾, and “Povertyâ€￾. Others were “Lazy [Filipino] men wanting everything for freeâ€￾, “Abundance of ripoffs and petty theft... scams in businessâ€￾ and “Corruption is everywhereâ€￾. Asked what they missed most about life in the West, comments were; “Foodâ€￾, “Brainsâ€￾, “Familyâ€￾, “Clean air in the citiesâ€￾, “That things work all the time and people are efficient and competentâ€￾, “Freedom to drive where I want to reasonably safelyâ€￾, but “Almost nothingâ€￾.

Many experienced a variety of problems living in the Philippines, as would be expected. Twenty-seven percent had been a victim of crime. Comments were; “Minor burglaryâ€￾, “Pick pocketedâ€￾, and “Mugged once when ... drunkâ€￾. And, 35% cited crime as a major personal concern. One clarified “A concern yes - but one that requires care and balanceâ€￾. Other cited problems were; “Assumption that all foreigners are rich and the consequences that flow from thatâ€￾, “Endless stream of callers to the house trying to sell goodsâ€￾, “Deciding how much help to give to relatives financiallyâ€￾, “Food and brownoutsâ€￾, “A lack of rights for foreigners in general. If there is an accident or dispute there is even a legal assumption that the foreigner is in the wrong and must pay to resolve the situationâ€￾, “It takes time to learn how to cope and the first one to three years here were hard. It also takes some money, as it is not cheap to have a first world existence in a third world countryâ€￾.

So to sum up, some suggestions for a successful transition are the usual ones for immigrants; be adaptable, take the good with the bad, and have lots of money. But in addition, perhaps the trial needs a few years and one should be sure that the bridges back to the West are not burned if it all goes wrong.
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Re: Expats in the Philippines: Why They Migrate and Marry Lo

Post by Jester » August 7th, 2012, 3:30 am

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Post by Taco » August 7th, 2012, 6:11 am

Another big reason expats like the Philippines that was not mentioned is language, most Filipinos understand some English even if they don't speak it well. Also, all the business and street signs are in English too. Most retirees don't want to learn a new language at 60 yrs old.

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Post by TRADER1972 » August 7th, 2012, 6:38 am

There is no question that when I lived there in 2006 I never felt more freedom. The US is such a police state with rules and regulations for everything. If one has the financial means to live there and no family ties forcing one to stay in the US, living in the Philippines is worthy of consideration. I only wish there was less pollution, poverty and corruption.

I miss paying $120 to rent a new house in the Philippines.

Here I rent an older house for $825 a month and pay about $125 a month for electricity!

An illegal u-turn set me back $200-230 last year!
I would rather make $2000 a month working for myself, then $4000 a month working for a bitch.

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