I love living in the Philippines. At this point in my life, I can’t even imagine ever leaving. However, no matter how much you love a place, you have to remember, no place on the Earth is perfect. During the entire time that I’ve lived here, my life has never been perfect, far from it! I guess if life was perfect, it would probably turn out to be boring. We all need challenges to keep us moving forward.
As I mentioned in my column yesterday, last week I was having lunch with John Grant. John asked me the question: “since you’ve been living in the Philippines what were the worst and best things that happened to you?“ Well, today I’m going to talk about the worst things that I’ve experienced since living in the Philippines. Frankly, there are not that many, but in order to improve our lives, we always have to examine the good and the bad, and decide how we can use those to improve.
So, let’s have a look at the worst things that I’ve experienced since living in the Philippines:
- I came very close to running out of money. When I moved here, I came with quite a nice stash of money. Not enough to retire, but enough to make a nice start. I’ll be honest, I came here with around $100,000 in cash. I thought that would last me a long time, but I was not right. Frankly, after about two years, I was in serious trouble. It came to the point where I was not sure how is going to pay my bills the next month. I had to make some money, and I had to do it fast. We were at the point that Feyma even offered to go abroad and work, sending money back to help pay the bills here, supporting me and the kids. I explained to her that that just was not going to happen. If anybody was to go work, it would be me, but my preference was to keep the family together. Feyma started encouraging me to try some methods of making money online, and I agreed. Luckily through this effort, I was able to recover, and learn how to make a good living here. How did I get into this position to begin with? Well, frankly, it was not hard. Firstly, we invested in several businesses when we came here. Some of them did okay, others didn’t. One thing I really learned is this, if you’re moving to a new country, take some time to learn how things work there before you start investing into things you don’t know much about, because, things don’t work the same way as they did back home. You’re likely to invest way too much money into things that you don’t need, and not enough in the things that you do need to get your business off the ground. Another thing that can make you run through your money is that most foreigners come here, thinking everything is cheap, and they just throw too much money at stuff. When everything is cheap, they feel that they can spend recklessly, and it won’t affect their pocketbook much. Well, believe me, when you spend money it depletes your savings, no matter how cheap the individual item is.
Temptation. This is a delicate topic, but one that must be discussed. For men, there is a lot of temptation here. I’m talking about other women who throw themselves at you and such. Coming from a country where you may not be considered desirable, and rarely have even thought of other women being interested in you, and showing up in a new country where you’re like a rockstar is not easy. There is constant temptation. Such temptation, even if you do not act on it, is not good for a marriage. If you do act on the temptation, that’s even worse for your marriage. All of this is particularly tough in the first couple of years that you live here, because it’s new for you, and something like this is hard to say no to. After a couple of years, you will get used to the feeling, and learn how to deal with it (or some may decide that this is the life they want, and continue full speed ahead). But, it’s not an easy transition. I am lucky that Feyma was patient and understanding with me. I have had times when I had Feyma with me, and women would come up to me and make offers to me. Many wives would not put up with that, even though it was not really the husbands fault that this happened. This, in my opinion is one of the hardest things about living here, and it took me time to learn how to avoid such situations. Honestly, I thank Feyma for her patience in this regard. I love Feyma very much, and I could not ask for a better wife. I hope she knows that, and I think she does. One important thing to keep in mind for you in this regard is that most women doing this are really only out for one thing – money. By “catching” you, they can get money, and that is the prime reason why they are interested in you (sorry to burst your bubble!).
- I had a stroke in November 2001. Having a stroke is certainly bad, but was it because I lived in the Philippines? Probably not totally, but I think that living here contributed to it. Why? Because living here was stressful until I adjusted more. There was a lot of pressure. Financial pressure, as I outlined in #1 above, the kind of pressures in #2, and other pressures. These pressures created stress, and stress leads to strokes. I was not in good health, and there is a history of stroke in my family, so I probably would have had a stroke at a later time anyway, but living here probably speeded it up a bit. Thankfully, I was able to make a full recovery, and I have improved my health a lot since then too. I think that living in the Philippines had a lot to do with these positive things too!
- Feeling superior. After moving here, I went through a stage where I felt superior. I felt like I was the hottest thing going. Why? Well, I can think of a few reasons why I developed this attitude. Firstly, as a foreigner, people here treat you in a way that makes you feel superior. It’s always “Sir” this and “Sir” that. You are treated in a way that you are better, more special, etc. When you are constantly treated this way, it tends to go to your head, or at least it did for me. It’s really a bad attitude, and one to avoid if you can. Also, take into account #2 above, you have all these women chasing after you – of course it makes you feel high and mighty. If you get an attitude like that – try to kick it as soon as you can. I feel that I have, for the most part, gotten past that, and I don’t feel that way anymore, and I’m glad that I don’t. It’s a lot more fun and enjoyable to live as a “regular guy” than the opposite!
So, these are the things that I have been able to come up with as the “worst things that have happened to me in the Philippines.” Certainly, there are other bad things that I have experienced here, but in the end they add up to very little. Overall, I would call life here super. As I have said many times on this site, I don’t really have any thoughts about leaving here, so that would tend to show that I like living here!