The best things I’ve experienced in the Philippines

OK, in yesterday’s column, I discussed the worst things that I had experienced while living in the Philippines.  I like today’s topic more, though – the best things I have experienced here.  I would say that the good outweighs the bad by an immense amount, it’s not even a close contest.  If that wasn’t the case, I probably wouldn’t be living here anymore!

For yesterday’s column, I felt that I had to struggle to find bad things to write about.  Today, I’m having to struggle too, though – this time keeping the list of good things to a minimum!  There are so many good aspects in my mind about living here.  Let’s have a look:

  1. I came very close to running out of money. What?  That was the number one bad thing yestereday, how can it be the number 1 good thing too?  Well, I did give you a teaser the other day and said to have a look at the number 1 bad thing and the number 1 good thing, because they are related.  You see, while running low on money was certainly a bad experience, it is something that forced me to learn how to money here.  Honestly, the number one complaint that I hear from other expats here is that they don’t have enough money.  Things are more expensive than they expected.  A lot of expats end up going home, because they can’t afford living here.  They need to go home and get a job.  Well, when I was staring at that same situation a number of years ago, I decided that I did not want to go back home, and I would do anything I could to make money here.  It took some hard work, time and commitment on my part, but I succeeded in that goal, and I’m glad that I did.  So, basically, through my hard work I was able to turn the worst experience I ever had here into the best.  I am very thankful for that too.
  2. MindanaoBob


    Learning to speak Bisaya. No, I am not fluent in Bisaya yet, but I am well down the road.  Last week, I got into a conversation with an old man in town.  He is from Leyte originally, but has lived in the Davao area for decades now.  He could not speak English much, so we talked in Bisaya.  Our conversation went on for an hour or so, I guess.  We talked about our respective lives, our families, kids, etc.  It was reallly enjoyable.  If I did not know how to speak Bisaya, I would have never been able to do talk with this man.  I have had other similar conversations with people over the past year.  I find that learning to speak the local language has been very rewarding to me.  It helps bring me closer to the local culture, opens up my understanding of the people and the place, and overall, it improves my life.  It improves my life a lot too.  Remember yesterday, I talked about feeling “superior” and how that was a negative thing about living here?  Well, I find that the ability to speak the local language gives you a lot of opportunities to be treated as “just a regular guy.”  And, I like that.  My only regret about learning Bisaya is that I should have done it earlier.  But, I can’t change that, all I can do is keep plugging away and improving my Bisaya skills.  I really offer a deep sense of gratitude to my teacher, Bebe Metillo for this too.  What she has done for me has improved my life immenseley.

  3. Gaining better health. In yesterday’s list of the worst things that I had experienced here, I mentioned that I had a stroke in 2001.  That has not been a secret, I have eluded to it a number of times on this site over the years.  But, that stroke pushed me toward improving my health.  Living in the Philippines contributed toward improving my health because of a number of reasons.  I have the time to get some exercise, be it walking, swimming or some other activity.  I don’t have to always be in a rush to get to work or whatever, and can take the time to improve myself.  Aslo, since living in the Philippines I have lost nearly 150 pounds, and that is certainly better for me.  I am not thin now, by any means, I am still very big, but having shed the pounds that I have has been good for me.  All I can do is to continue working on losing more weight in the future.
  4. Travel and learning about other cultures. If you have been reading any of my sites for any appreciable time, you will know that I have done a lot of travel around Mindanao.   This ability to travel the region has really opened my eyes to cultures other than my own, and that is something that I have found valuable in my personal life.  If I didn’t live here, I doubt that I could have had such an opportunity.
  5. Becoming more thankful for the things that I have. It would not be easy to live here without developing a deep appreciation of the things that you have in life.  Seeing the poverty that exists in the Philippines can have a deep impact on you, if you allow it to do so.  One thing that has come to my mind is that some people who may be very poor in terms of finances are still rich in terms of other things in their lives – family and such.  Most westerns don’t appreciate these things as much as they should, in my opinion.
  6. Making good friends. Yes, I had good friends back in the States too, but living here has given me the chance to make friends from many different cultures.  I have friends from dozens of countries – other expats who live here – as well as Filipinos and other Americans.  If I lived in the States, I don’t think that I would have had the opportunity to have such a diverse group of friends.

Well, there are so many good things that I have experienced here, it’s hard to list them all.  In fact, listing them all would be impossible.  I have, however, listed those things that I find very important in my personal life.  I hope that you all get the opportunity to experience things like this by moving to the Philippines yourself.

Post Author: MindanaoBob (942 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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  1. Ellen says

    Hi Bob – 4got to mention that one should try to remain healthy. Hospitalization costs can be quite expensive and eat up that savings. Just heard that my cousin stayed in hospital 2 months (due to heart attack) and cost him over P2 million – thats almost US$50k. Wow. Anyway, reminds me to renew my expat health insurance and keep it up.


  2. says

    Hi Ellen – Yes, medical costs must always be kept in mind. To stay in the hospital in the US or other developed countries, I feel would cost a lot more than $50k, although it depends on what kinds of care you need.

  3. ecstasy says

    Oh Bob, how can you forget? A Christmas that starts in July… And along with that, the carollers (hopefully this one only happens in December?!) No carollers in July, right?

  4. AussieLee says

    Morning Bob,
    150lbs! Hell thats a lot to lose! I used to weigh 240lbs and lost 66lbs some years ago. I am now a good weight for 6' tall. I find, Bob, that you just can't eat and drink everything you want and stay a good weight-unless you are one of the lucky few who have a monster metabolism. I notice your "best" experiences are basically all inner self or personal development things. Some people would have listed gratuitous things like warm weather, cheap alcohol, sexy girls, cheaper(?) living, etc, etc, whereas you have obviously progressed beyond these hedonistic, base experiences. Congratulations Bob.

  5. Larry says

    Interesting item about making friends. I joke about filapino time :wink: but I think the relaxed attitude the filapinos have may be one of the reasons it is so easy to make new friends. Here in the US I find most people know very little about there neighbors and very seldom make a new friend. Every time I go to the RP I meet new people and have some good conversations with tourists, locals, and expats. :smile:

  6. says

    Hi AussieLee – Thanks for your comment. When it comes to weight issues, I find that my diet has changed a lot since moving here. Not 100% by choice, but just natural habits have changed, and for the better. My biggest friend in the weight loss area has been exercise. If I get regular exercise, that helps me keep my weight under better control.

    Yes, I didn't realize, but you are right, the things that have had a very positive impact in my life are indeed personal development things.

  7. says

    Hi Larry – The development of friendships with all kinds of different people is something that has been very valuable to me. I also find that having friends from many different cultures helps better develop my own views about things in my life. It is very valuable, in my opinion!

  8. Mark C. says

    I lived in the Philippines for a year, '95-'96, and then moved to Alabama to be near my parents. A lot of the experiences you have had in your move to the Philippines are similar to my move to Alabama. Cultural differences, slower pace of living, warmer weather, different language (y'all unnerstan? :wink: ), lower cost of living, nice/polite people, etc..
    It makes it harder to justify the move to the Philippines, but I am still constantly comparing the two places and leaning toward the Philippines.
    Mark C.

  9. says

    Hi Mark C. – It's good that you have found a place to live that you like, and offers a choice for you. Having narrowed your choice of where to live down to two places, and liking both of them is a real plus! You have a no-lose situation! :smile:

  10. Steven says

    Hello Bob,
    After reading your experiences and numerous other peoples comments on other websites, you seem to have adjusted to the Philippines very well. Now doubt due to family, friends and your ability to adjust has made life much easier.
    There are many reasons why a lot of foriegners return to their country of origin and I am sure that you have heard most of them. So any one who has adjusted as well as you have deserves high praise.
    Well I have made that commitment and has decided to come up to the Philippines and stay for up to 12 months. Due to fly out in late October.


  11. says

    Hi ecstasy – Ha ha… I guess that Christmas doesn't rank on my list! I tend to miss the Christmas in the States, cold weather and such. Carolers, that usually gets started around October or so, so you have a good 3 months or so of listening to carolers and having them ask for money at your gate! :lol:

  12. says

    Hi Steven – Thanks for your kind words. Keep in mind – you can't adjust to living here in only 12 months. I would say that for most people it takes 3 to 5 years to become adjusted. After 12 months, in many ways, you are just getting over the thrill of living in a new place, and the hard part is just getting started!

    Good luck with the move! I hope that it goes well for you.

  13. anthony says

    Hi Bob- Although I have not lived in the Philippines, but having a close relationship with the country, I think the greatest experience coming from R.P is "appreciating what you have got"

    I'm sure most readers appreciate this sentiment, whichever way you interpret it.

  14. says

    Hi anthony – I don't rank that on top of my list, but it is certainly something that was (and is) important to me, no doubt there. In some ways, having that appreciation may also contribute to the other pluses too.

  15. Neal In RI says

    Bob, Your weight loss is VERY impressive indeed.
    You should put your Entrepenorial nose to the grindstone and come up with a TV show "Mindanao Bob's guide to weightloss"

    Ellen, can you give me some info on the ExPat Insur.

  16. says

    kamusta bob
    wow i would say you have been through alot of changes since u was in philippines.all good ones from your article here.i would have to say some of my best things for me is being invited to birthday partys and for nice dinners by friends and family.also i helped my fiancee friend when her son was playing on his dads motorcycle and he broke his leg . i payed for the doctor to set his leg and put a cast on was the appriceation from her friend and family that gave me a good feeling i was able to help them.mabe the #1 is that i got to experience the philippines and all the wonderful people there.
    salamat bob

  17. Ellen says

    Hi Neal In RI – are you Canadian? If so, then we carry Global Expatriate coverage with TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators Ltd. in Toronto, (416) 340-0790. You cannot be covered by the Canadian public health services plan if you apply for Global expatriate. This covers all medical costs excluding pre-existing conditions. However, this year ( I am filling up the renewal application forms now) it is giving us the option to cover these as well. I don't know if they have changed their policies, or it is because this is our 7th year with them.

    If you are American/European, I am not sure they can cover you, but you can check. It is common to have expat health insurance coverage amongst us, cruisers, and there is always a debate going on on which underwriter is best. Good luck and do read the fine prints …

  18. Tina says

    Hi Bob,

    Nice post! I hope this list keeps growing longer everyday. :wink:

    Take care & kumusta na lang kang Feyma!

  19. says

    Hi Tina – Thanks! Actually, I could make a much larger list of things that have been positive about living here. I tried to keep it down to just the most important things in my life, though, otherwise it would have been just way too long! :lol:

    All the best from Feyma and I!

  20. says

    Hi John – You would need to check your policy. No hospital here will take it outright, but under your policy you may need to pay here in cash, and then be reimbursed by your insurance provider.

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