I’ve been thinking about my future alot lately   Leave a comment

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…Until recently, I never seriously considered leaving the U.S. Then, I made that list of countries I wouldn’t mind moving to if I did. For those who didn’t read that blog post, my top choice was The Philippines. Then I decided to do some research on The Philippines in recent months. I know 10 people who live in The Philippines as well and they provided additional information I couldn’t easily find online.

The more I learned about The Philippines, the more drawn to it I became. Then…I realized something: I could make a fresh start over there.

From an economical point of view, it makes sense: Rent starts at 3500 Philippine Pesos (PHP), which is about $67 USD (rounding to the nearest USD). You can also buy a house starting at 1,516,050 PHP, which is about $30,000 USD. There is a BIG catch, however: Foreigners can’t buy property or land in The Philippines BUT they can own land signed over to them. What this means is you would have to have a local you trust buy property on your behalf and then transfer ownership over to you.

Moving on, my tradeskills in education and Writing abilities should ensure I don’t have too much trouble finding a job very quickly either as a tutor, a consultant or an advisor with a decient salary. I am already seeing several jobs I can do remotely so…yeah. Ensuring I can jump into a job now given I am still currently Unemployed is big.

The climate in The Philippines is fairly easy to predict: There is no snow. So, I would need to plan for heavy rain and hot weather instead. The region does have Typhoons (Hurricanes in the Atlantic) and but the areas I am looking at are high enough for me to not have to worry about flooding.

The Philippines is a former U.S. Territory so almost everyone knows English  as well a Tagalong (Filipino) as a result. So, unless you’re looking to be a translator you shouldn’t have too much difficulty talking to folks. In fact students from other Asian countries in the region including Korea, Japan and China move to The Philippines to learn English while taking advantage of the country’s low cost of living.

Speaking of the cost of living: $1.00 USD = 50.27 PHP. $100 USD = 5027.40 PHP. $500 = 25,137 PHP. $1,000 = 50, 274.

So, yeah.

It makes a whole lot of sense why Western Retirees–mostly from the U.S.–choose to live out their retirement in The Philippines. The most you will likely pay to buy a house in The Philippines is just $20,000 USD (19,891 PHP) or rent to own starting at rent pricing over 20 to 30 years. Probably shorter if you work something out with a local.

It’s a good investment longterm, especially if you know someone living in The Philippines already: You can arrange to buy a house and have someone you know in the Philippines maintain the property for you when you’re not there. That way, you don’t have to worry about the property falling into disrepair when you’re not there. It’s become an opportunity for some Filipino natives living in poverty over the years and also a way to stay off the streets and out of trouble. In exchange for taking care of the house, they can be paid to maintain the property while the owner is abroad.

As it happens, I know at least 10 people who live in The Philippines and have for some time now. I recently talked to one about the idea and they are open to helping me maintain a house over there. I’m now helping them plan a trip to Boston hopefully sometime early next year where we will talk in more detail on the matter, among other things.

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…All that said, The Philippines does have its share of problems. It IS considered a third-world country after all.

Of note:

  • The Philippines became a U.S. Territory at the close of World War II (liberated from Japan) and remained one until it regained its independence in 1987. In the 30 years since becoming independent The Philippine government has had one corrupt, authoritorian government after the next even today. There is widespread poverty and a lack of opportunities for many Filipinos as a result.
  • The Philippines has two official languages: Tagalong (Filipino) and English. There is open discrimination among Filipinos against those who do not know English and those who have dark or tan skin. Knowing English is viewed as a sign you are an educated person. Having lighter skin means you will be able to blend in should you go to China, Japan or South Korea for work or school. Otherwise you’re likely to go to Hawaii, California, Samoa or The Middle East if they’re Muslim.
  • In an effort to promote national pride, anyone born to a Filipino parent is now considered a citizen of The Philippines. This policy was recently done to help encourage those who left for better opportunities to return and those who were born to a Filipino parent to visit the county of their family’s birth. Most but not all who leave for work or school overseas never return and eventually go on to become citizens of the country they move to. Rather than invest in their homeland, many choose to remain overseas where they will have a much higher quality of life.
  • Until about 10 years ago, The Philippines was the #1 destination for retirees from the U.S. That changed after the Recession. Some were even forced to move back to the U.S. to help their families. The timing was bad as The Philippines has undergone an explosion of construction for new housing opportunities since then. Housing set aside for foreigners to rent that the government is now trying to repurpose.
  • Due to the strong influences of the Roman Catholic Church which until recently prettymuch ran the country,  Sex Education is lacking and contraceptives are a taboo. The teen pregnancy rate in The Philippines is one of the highest in the world and in fact, some girls have had sex starting as young as 11 in some cases and will have had their third child by the time they’re 18. The situation is so bad, non-profits and relief organizations that come in to teach Sex Ed hand out condoms in an effort to curb the out of control birthrate. The Philippines is a textbook example of why an Abstinence-Only Policy (No Sex before marriage for those who don’t know) does not work.
  • Going with the above: Once a woman gets pregnant, she is not allowed to work most jobs for safety reasons. If she is single and pregnant–and this is also a widespread issue–she is often disowned by her family. Some women are driven to undergo an abortion at one of the many underground abortion clinics in a country where abortion is illegal. Some turn to prostitution or the rapidly growing Live Cam industry to make money off foreigners.
  • For those who don’t know, there are no government assistence programs in The Philippines like Food Stamps and Social Seecurity in the U.S. for those in need: Becoming pregnant at a young age or having several children in a few years when you’re not financially stable is exasperated by the fact good paying jobs are hard to come by without a good education. Getting pregnant young means dropping out of school.
  • Although Cambodia is more known for this, The Philippines is the #1 destination for sex tourism in the South Asia Region. I mentioned earlier dark-skinned Filipinos are often discriminated against by lighter-skinned Filipinos. Filipinas with darker skin out of work and knowing little to no English often find themselves the victims of Sex Tourism and Sex Trafficking. Even worse, some end up pregnant and never even know the identity of their child’s father. Some even contract STDs from their clients from overseas and unknowingly spread it to others. It’s at the point foreigners are offered condoms at the airport.
  • The Philippines is the #2 destination behind Cambodia in the world for Pedophiles from the U.S. and Europe looking to openly prey on children since it’s far easier to find victims to prey on without anyone knowing. Really, this is a thing and has been for a some time. Pedos going overseas “to get their fix” is nothing new but over the last 10 years, they’ve been going in much larger numbers (credit to MSNBC Journalist Chris Hansen and his To Catch a Predator show). They go there because they can molest or worse and be completely invisible. Only in recent years has the practice become more known to the public and the UN is offering assistence in identifying and arresting those who travel to The Philippines for Pedophilia. Local authorities in The Philippines are also warning the public about the problem as well.

…I’m sure that last one jumped out on you.

In short, The Philippines has many of the problems one would expect from a country with rampant poverty, lack of education and a lack of opportunities for most of the population. I’m sure this is a surprise to many given it’s a former U.S. territory but shouldn’t given it was prettymuch cut loose by the Reagan Administration “to save money” though it was presented to the world as giving Filipinos control of their homeland. The economy is almost non-existent and most of the revenue is funneled directly into the coffers of the government. Little is actually invested into the country. Non-profits, missionaries and relief organizations are a lifeline to those who would die otherwise.

Despite all the challenges, I maintain what I said earlier about the country having much potential. After all, there are many foreign companies who have set up shop over there. To say The Philippines relies on those jobs would be an understatement. Much more needs to be done on the ground over there to put a dent in the widespread poverty.

Vocational Schools will go a long way in training people of different age groups with the skills they’ll need to help lift the economy in The Philippines, which is virtually non-existent: In fact, the country is most known for exporting Filippinos to other countries to work. Those working overseas in turn send money back home to support their families.

  • Unfortunately, some end up becoming victims of Debt Human Trafficking: They’re tricked into accepting a pile of money and legally becoming slaves until they can pay off a debt their debtors know they can never pay off on their own. Most don’t even realize they signed themselves over to become slaves until it’s too late.
  • Some end up being caught up in Sex Trafficking rings, mostly in South Asia: They’re recruited by a Filippino ring member they befriend not knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Not until after their passport, visa and cellphone are all taken from them. Most are immediately forced into prostitution but some are forced to pose in front of a camera for live cam shows, usually under the threat of violence, calling the police or deportation.

The above points aside, those with the means to leave tend not to return home though they will visit. They will either just finance their family’s immigration or send money to keep their family going back home. Hong Kong is now the #1 destination for Filippinos looking to work overseas. The demand for overseas workers exploded after Hong Kong officially came under the juristiction of the Chinese government a few years ago.

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Due to America’s anti-immigration policies since 9/11, it’s now much harder for overseas workers to apply for a visa to work in the U.S. Overseas workers are now looking elsewhere to more immigration-friendly countries to work. Most Filippinos who immigrate to the U.S. now do it for one of two reasons: They either have family already here or they are in a relationship with a U.S. Citizen, usually the second reason. 9 out of 10 times it’s a Filippino woman and a Male American Citizen so…yeah.

For those who may be wondering yes, the U.S. Citizen will be on the hook to sponor their new wife’s Marriage Visa. Costs to file the paperwork while she’s home is $850 excluding the required Medical Exam which starts around $300. If she’s already here when you file, it will cost an extra $985 to change her Tourist Visa into a green card. This is in addition to the $850 for the other paperwork plus the Medical Exam, which are both also required get the her status legally changed. Oh and you also need to get a Marriage License in the U.S., which proves you and her are legally married. Reverse the gender if it’s a Female U.S. Citizen and Male Filippino but everything else is the same.

…Mind you, this is separate from retirees moving to The Philippines. Sometimes the Filippino woman will have a child (one or two on average) from a previous relationship and the child’s father is either dead or out of the picture completely. Of course, any guy who decides to be with her knows they’re getting a package deal. So, when you marry her and she becomes a U.S. Citizen via a Marriage Visa, her kids under 18 become one also. As it happens, both The Philippines and The U.S. allow dual citizenship between them. Anyone born to a Filippino parent overseas is also automatically eligable for dual citizenship. Want to become a Filippino Citizen? It will take 10 years but that time is cut in half if you marry a Filippino citizen.

Goes without saying the reason I know all this stuff is because I have been doing alot of research in recent years. I meant to post this last month but I’m glad I waited since I kept updating this post over time. I will revisit this topic throughout 2018 as well ^_^

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