Things left behind…

I don’t often think negative thoughts, especially negative thoughts about my life in the Philippines.  Last night, though, my thinking bordered on being negative.  Maybe it was not really negative, but more reflective.

Let me tell you what happened.

I was up kind of late, because I was unable to sleep.  Normally, I sleep kind of early, and last night I went to bed early, but because I was unable to sleep, I got up and was playing around on my computer.  For some reason, an old friend came to mind.  Jim and I were best friends in High School.  We had a group of about a half dozen of us who were all close friends, but for some reason Jim and I were a bit closer than either of us were with the others in the group.  I guess we had a similar outlook on life.

Both Jim and I decided to attend college at LSU (Louisiana State University) after graduating from High School.  I majored in Economics, Jim majored in Geology.  We were even roommates in Baton Rouge, we rented an apartment along with another friend.  We were very close.  After two years at LSU, Jim decided to transfer to another college, while I continued at LSU.  I don’t recall, but we may have seen each other a couple of times after that, maybe we talked on the phone, but within a couple of years, I had moved on to a different part of the USA, and I lost track of Jim.  We have not talked or seen each other since.

So, last night, when I was a bit sleepless, Jim came to mind, and I decided to do a little Internet searching and see what I could find about him, if anything at all.  Well, I did not find much about Jim on the net, just a few things, but what I found was pretty amazing to me.  Jim is the President and COO of an oil company in Texas.  Not one of the big oil companies, but nonetheless, a pretty substantial company.  Without a doubt, it is the same Jim that was one of my best friends years ago, because his history that I found on the web matches perfectly… what schools he attended, what years he was in school, etc.  It simply could not be anybody else.  When I saw this, I was surprised, and happy for Jim, to be such a success.  It made me think back to some of our good times together, and feel proud that he made it so far in his career.  On the off chance that Jim is reading this, which I highly doubt, congratulations, my friend!

Wow, President of an Oil Company?
Wow, President of an Oil Company?

As I thought more and more about Jim, it made me think of what I had left behind by moving to the Philippines.  What kind of job would I have now?  For my last 10 years in the States, I was self employed, except just the past two years before moving to the Philippines.  Those last 2 years in the States, I was employed by a major Japanese company that manufacturers silicon wafers, which are used for making things like computer chips and such.  I was on the fast track with the company, and moved up pretty quickly.  In just 2 years, I received several major promotions into the management levels in the company.  Heck, that was 12 or 13 years ago, where would I be now?  It is possible that I could have a very high ranking job with that company now.  However, it is also possible that I would not have a job with them at all, because in the past 5 years or so, they have shrunk considerably.  When I was working there, at that one location we had about 4,000 employees, and I hear that they have only around 400 or so now.  Would I still be with them?  We will never know.  Perhaps I would be, or perhaps I would have moved back into self employment, there is no guessing.

What about my kids?  Did I lesser their opportunities by moving them to the Philippines at a young age?  When we moved to the Philippines, Chris was 8 years old, Aaron was 3, and Jared was only 1 month old.  Did I limit their opportunities by moving to the Philippines?

While I can never know the answers to my thoughts about the opportunities of the kids, I came to the conclusion that I made the right choice.  I mean, if I look at my life, and my family’s life at this point, we are all very happy.  I am self employed, and I feel that I am successful at what I do.  My kids are all studying in quality schools, and generally doing well with their studies.  Especially Aaron and Jared, they are in one of the highest quality, and most prestigious schools in the Philippines.  They have so many opportunities ahead of them that the possibilities are endless.  Not only do they have opportunities, I feel that living a multi-cultural lifestyle during their childhood will offer them some opportunities that other kids don’t have.

So, while my late night thinking led to some questions and concerns, my conclusion was positive.  I did the right thing.  Maybe I could have achieved some high ranking job like my old friend did.  But, would I be as happy as I am now?  I doubt it.  Would I make more money?  Perhaps I would, but I make a pretty nice living already, so why worry about that?  There are things in life worth more than money.

Yep, I’m pretty darn happy.  Are you?

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1354 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.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual


  1. ScottF says

    Bob, I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I’ve often thought about the many different paths my life may have taken over the years had I stuck with one career or another. Ultimately, I find that the path I am on is the one for me. After all, if my path didn’t take the one that it did, I never would have met the guy that led me to his aunt, and she was responsible for introducing me to my Filipina wife. And while the path of life has changed dramatically from the one that I envisioned for myself, it is one that I am happy to be on.

    As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, we learn from our past experiences and it brings an enrichment to ourselves and those whose paths we cross. I am looking forward to our move to the Philippines and the many new experiences I will have, and hopefully be able to share with my wife and her family. And maybe even our own children, if we have some.

    I am happy with who I am now, and am excited about who I may become in the future. You should be too!

    • says

      Hi Scott – I am very happy, Scott, with who I am and the direction that I took, if I left the impression that I am not, then I did not do a good job in writing the article. I just took some time to consider what could have been… but came to the conclusion that I am much happier with what “is” than what could have been.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • RandyL says

        If you and your family are happy Bob, then you have obviously made some right choices. Second guessing your happiness is always an exercise in futility.

  2. John Leick says

    It does not hurt to think back, from time to time, and wonder what would it be like if I did this or that. I was just thinking about this today as I saw a posting on my Facebook from my university, North Carolina State. Upon graduating with my BS in Industrial Engineering, one of my professors sponsored me for a slot in their graduate program. I really wanted to keep going for I wanted to teach at the university level. But I declined as I got roped into a family business. This is probably the only regret I have. I would be tenured and secure, but not make as much money, but I would be happy. Wow, did things change over these last 25 years of being self employed! I shut down all our US manufacturing and went to China, and now Southeast Asia. I have been in a business pressure cooker ever since. But I ended up in a pretty good place, and I am happy. I have a small staff who takes care of my business up in China, and recently, two guys based in Cebu who handle design and development. And next year I will make my move to Cebu, and that is a good thing. Yup, it is not about the money, it is about quality of life.

    • says

      Hi John – thanks for sharing your comment, I appreciate it. You are so right, life changes in directions that we could never predict. If something changes direction we would have missed out on so many great experiences and such. All in all, I am very happy with how my life worked out (so far!), I hope that you are too.

    • Charlie Tuna says

      At least you admit you are one of the traitors from the U.S. that sold out our jobs and very lives to China !
      You sell out to China and have the gall to say it’s not about money !
      I’d sure like to meet you some day. :o(

  3. says

    Great Read Bob, yes life is hard and gives you a challenge, but life bought you to the phills, a world where you make your own lifestyle.And best friends are hard to find, i miss my best friend after leaving where i lived over 20 years ago. When i finally live in the phills full time,i hope i find a Best Friend again…

  4. says

    This has become one of my main concerns about living in the phills, i will need to have a friend who i can have a good chat with or leave my house their and travel for a few days. advice and problem sharing is so important.

  5. says

    Very interesting Story Bob..You went with your heart..You have to be Happy and Content..Your kids are always smiling ..I Always did spur of the moment things..I was the only one in my Family that jumped on a Plane and went to the Philippines to meet a young Lady in a remote fishing village where I was the only White Boy..I could only talk with my girl..No one else in the village new English.We managed to communicate and I’am there Oldest Son now..The love there was the type I never new in the Last 20 years..Now my Family here has a lovely new Daughter and we have a Big Strong Boy..With Fair skin and a little Filipino Nose..He is also a Foot Taller than his little Mom and Dad..Just thought I would put my two cents in Bob..

  6. El Moro says

    Nice reflection you have there Bob. In the end, It is very apparent that you are enjoying your life, wherever it may be. This is one life principle that borders along the saying that “Savor the past and make the most of the present”. Keep on writing Bob. Many of us enjoy your articles. Maayong buntag amigo…

  7. Cheryl says

    Cheryl’s fiance posting here. Your old friend might have a big time position with a oil company but is he happy??? I have many successful friends and relatives, well they are successful as far as material possessions and money, but they are NOT happy!

    I have a number of friends that are very well off, into the millions, and they think my life is better than theirs because I get to travel and live in a far off place.

    My friends that are doing well according to American standards (money, material possessions, loads of stress and unhappiness) are not even close to as happy as many of my friends that live in the Philippines or some other country.

    I run into a LOT of successful people in my line of work and the conversation usually gets around to what I do. I tell them my love of the Philippines, why I love it (and I also tell the bad as I perceive it), and why I want to permanently move there.

    Almost every one wishes their life was less complicated and more simple. Many of them have told me they have friends that live in other countries, some of those friends live in the Philippines, and they are seriously thinking about getting out of the “rat race” that is the American way.

    When I am in the Philippines I think often of my friends and their hectic lives that seem miserable to them…although they have plenty of money and all of the things associated with that. But they are not happy!

    Bob, it has been awhile since you lived in America. And even though you say you think you made the right choice, maybe you have forgotten about how messed up things can be in this country.

    As soon as I have the income consistent enough to live in the Philippines I am outta here! And I meet people DAILY that say the same thing.

    In fact I am still AMAZED, even after all my travels to the Philippines, in the difference in happiness between my friends that live in the Philippines and my friends and relatives that live in America. It isn’t close, my filipine living friends are much much much much happier.

    • says

      Hi Cheryl’s Fiance (what is your name, btw?) – Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean, money does not necessarily buy happiness. But, generally, it is easier to be happy if you have money. Thankfully, I have both, happiness, and money to move things along in the direction as well.

      • RandyL says

        Cheryl’s F… I must most know the same people you do. 😀 I also agree with Bob that it is easier to be happy with money. Doesn’t have to be a mega amount of money, but enough to provide the staples of life with some left over for enjoyment and peace of mind. For years I was sucked along the path of image and success and I even reached the summit of my goals (big house on golf course, sailboat, motorhome, etc). What many people don’t understand, there can be many side effects of reaching that mountain top. You can expend and can sacrifice an awful lot of resources, with much hard work and stress to get there. Two major side effects are usually the cost of ones health and happiness. The ultimate sacrifice of course is the destruction of ones family and it happens more than not. Once there at the top, it is hard to convey how much more work and stress it takes to maintain that stay at the top, and once there, many people will wonder whether it was worth it. Now comes the bigger decision…the fearful decision to make the descent back down into the realm of happiness. Some make it, many don’t. I’m on my way! :)
        The Beatles sang it best “Can’t buy me love….love…. / ….those kinds of things money just can’t buy”

  8. John Miele says

    In life we all face a number of different crossroads where our choices make a huge difference in how our lives unfold. I’m not a believer that we are pre-destined to any outcomes.

    When I have a moment where I ponder a long-ago choice, I also think of the bad that could have happened, too. Therefore, no regrets. You can only go forward, but never go back.

    • says

      For sure, John, once we choose our direction at the crossroad, there is not a lot we can do to change, and it’s best to just push forward. Like you, I am not a believer in fate.

  9. says

    Thanks, Bobby. Yes, I went with my heart and it worked out for my pocketbook too, as I make a nice living here in the Philippines. I can’t complain about that.

  10. Paul Thompson says

    Regrets I have a few, but none about my choice to live here in the Philippines. My daughters have both done well in their life. My wife is happy with her life, I have friends and all is well with me. My family in the States had questions about what I was doing and where I was living, but that even went back to when I was living in Puerto Rico. I was never like them, and never could have been happy living any of my brother’s lives. There is nothing wrong with how they live, and I’ve always wished them the best. But there are people like a lot of LiP readers that have followed the drummer that plays only for them. You did the right thing!
    The things you left behind are the foundation of who you are now!

    • says

      Hi Paul – Much like you, some people, especially family back in the States did not understand my motivation to move to the Philippines. What they desire and what I desire are not the same, but I’m glad that I did what I did, and it has worked out well for me. Apparently for you too! We can both be happy about that.

  11. Gary Wigle says

    When I was younger and much more foolish I thought it would be great to run a company. So I worked hard and worked my way up and got what I wanted. Guess what? Wasn’t that big of a deal. Just too busy to enjoy life. Now I live in Tagum City here on the wonderful island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Not very much money but life is so much better. Regrets? Just not having Medicare. That is a great program but doesn’t work here in the Philippines.

    • says

      Hi Gary – I am the type of person that business is an important part of my life. Being self employed is really like a hobby for me! Ha ha… not many people like that, but I enjoy it greatly, to be honest.

      Medicare… if things keep moving in the direction that they are moving, medicare may die anyway, so you will not be out anything! 😉

    • Charlie Tuna says

      Medicare was a great program until Obama and his commie czars stole over one billion from Medicare. Check it out Gary.

      • says

        Charlie – This is not a forum for US politics. Opening it up to the kind of stuff you just posted will ruin LiP, a site which I worked hard to create. Please refrain from flaming of either side.

  12. Ron says

    Hi Bob, We all measure success differently. In the end if we are surrounded by those that we love and care about, when we have friends, we are blessed regardless of what financial or status someone else has achieved. I have read so many things that you have written and you have always mentioned your son and the opportunity about being there for him. I suspect he drove a lot of what drives you and for that alone you are a huge success. Just keep smiling and doing what you enjoy. Ron

    • says

      Thanks, Ron, I appreciate your input. I have always said to others that if you follow your passion you will be successful in life, both in happiness and income. Apparently it worked for me. 😉

  13. says

    When I worked in the film industry in Australia back in 84 we released a film titled The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!

    The main character had a line “wherever you go…..there you are”. While it was a nonsensical line I kind of like it.

  14. Bob New York says

    I think we all have thoughts of ” What If ” from time to time. Those that are contented with themselves, their surroundings their past and have things to look forward to are really signs of success and you exhibit that in so many of the things you write Mindanao Bob.

  15. Ricardo Sumilang says

    I think everyone at one time or another wish they knew what their future hold, but wouldn’t life be boring if we knew? One of the beauties of life is that it is full of surprises. Those little surprises we encounter along the way are the very things that shape us. Taken together, they represent our life-long experiences, the sum total of which is what we call wisdom.

  16. Christopher says

    Hi Bob, nice article that i can relate to also. But we both know that dwelling on the “what if” or “if only i did that” will only cause us undue stress. There are so many decisions me make in our lives that put us on a new course, sometimes not even realizing it did till much later in life. Making a move half way around the world and career changes are major decisions but not bigger than chosing your spouse and remaining true to her. As you said there are more important things than money and living in the Philippines where family is nunber 1 is a great life lesson to pass to your children. When we pass from this life we’ll be judged by the love we spread and share. If your happy, and it sounds like you are don’t look back. Look ahead.

    • says

      Hi Christopher – I believe there is value in studying our past actions and using what we learn to steer our course in the future. But, in the end, what we decided in the past cannot be changed, and we can only use it to learn for our future. I am happy that my time of reflection on this led me to the conclusion that I made the right choice! Thanks for your advice.

  17. sergio borges says

    I´m so happy with my life in the Philippines.
    I sleep early, as always, wake up very early to buy fish, go to the beach, come back and cook my food… take a long walk in the afternoom, meet friends for pulutam in the evening… sometimes a short trip to visit places and make new friends in the neighbor localities… yes, it´s a good life in the philippines…


  18. Mars Z. says

    Hi Bob, I think everybody reflects of “What might have been” moment someway or another. Thinking of the choices you could have made, what if you had married your high school girlfriend, job choices, going abroad instead of staying in the Philippines.

    I was driving last week to Georgia from Virginia alone and I had a lot of moments like that. While driving through the tropical storm Beryl all of North Carolina and South Carolina, I was thinking things such as will my old classmates in the Philippines believe you can drive 600 miles in 8-9 hours alone, and how would they envision it, etc. Lots of these thing comes to mind when you are driving alone to keep your mind occupied.

    The fact is there’s no way to know what might have been as the song in the links below would say:

  19. Freddie Mercury says

    It takes a special person to migrate and live as an expat. A very rewarding and energizing experience. To be able to hold your own financially (as Bob does) without a pension or outside income is a real challenge rarely met.

  20. Mark G. says

    Bob you’re one of the luckiest people I know. You have a job you like with a good income, a loving wife and family and the ability to do as you please, more or less. If more people were as lucky as you the world would be a better place. That said as far as my own past experiences I’ll quote from an old song I like to hear every now and then; “What a long, strange trip it’s been”! (If I wrote a book about it people would think it was fiction, lol.) Ingat kaibigan.

    • says

      Hi Mark – I believe in what Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying:

      I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

      I don’t really believe I am lucky… I know that I worked hard to get where I am today! 😉

      Thanks for your comment, Mark.

  21. says

    Yes, Bob, you could be making more money, but you could also be making less!

    I think you have done well for yourself, my friend!

  22. chasdv says

    Hi Bob,
    Funny really coz i was reflecting on my past life too. Leaving home at 17 and living most of my life away from my hometown changed me substancially.
    I was based in Singapore (3rd world country then) before i reached my 18th birthday, lol.
    Lived away from my hometown ever since, done my own thing, lead rather than follow.
    I’ve met up with a couple of old school chums over the years but sadly we have very little in common these days. They are so insular, where i have travelled half the world and lived in many different areas of the UK following opportunity.
    Early retirement end of the year, moving again, such is life.

    • says

      Hi Chas – Nice comment, I enjoyed reading it, and through your comment, I learned more about you. For example, I didn’t realize that you left home at such a young age, nor did I know that you had lived in Singapore.

      Reflecting back on our lives can not only help us evaluate and find our errors, it can also reinforce our successes, as I believe you did!

      You’re moving at the end of this year? To the Philippines this time? Will be great to see you again!

      • chasdv says

        Thanks Bob, my life has been one hell of a roller coaster ride, but no regrets, its been an amazing adventure.
        Yep, i’m ready for a new adventure, i will be landing in the PH early next year.
        It will be great to meet up again!

  23. Charlie Tuna says

    Facebook is failing very fast as I predicted and will soon be but a memory. If you count on any one thing you are on a slippery slope. Even if you have many so called “things” to count on, your are not going to beat Mr. Death. He may get you today, tomorrow, or ? We all end up there. Or so we think ? Minimize your regrets and do not look back.
    Be careful climbing the laddrer of so called success that you do not poop on too many of the lower rungs, as someday you will most likely have to take a few steps back down.

    • says

      Ha ha… OK, Charlie, good points. I don’t know if FB is failing.. except on the stock market, but that does not mean that they will disappear, though.

  24. Lenny says

    Wow ..alot of comments here..My main problem has been even thou they are grown up… is my children, some of them take the attitude that I have abandoned them here.. By going to the Philipphines …and is my wife truly a wonderful person. It’s been 7 years now, and time has tested true , so they now understand better of my realtionship here.. It’s difficult to go back there alot for me, but we do stay in touch constantly via phone and cam…But early on it was difficult, I find myself a better person overall.. living here .. because of the culture and slower pace of life, gives one time to reflect back on the living style in the U S

    • says

      Hi Lenny – I experienced the same thing, with people feeling that I had abandoned them by moving to the Philippines. That was not how I felt at all. Funny thing was, some of the people who felt the most strongly like that, had over the years, moved to far away places themselves. Strange how I was abandoning them when I did the same!

      • PapaDuck says

        Thanks so much for sharing your story. Congratulations you have reached the pinnacle of sucess in family, happiness and work. You are a great role model for everyone. I gauge my success on how my 3 kids have turned out. They have all turned out successful so i must have done something right along the way. Having a loving family, pension and having the opportunity to live in the Philippines is icing on the cake. Take care my friend stay safe in Davao.

        • says

          Thank you PapaDuck! I don’t know that I would want to hold myself up as a role model, as I have made plenty of mistakes and done things in life that I am not proud of! But, if others consider me to be a role model.. well, what can I say or do? 😉

  25. Bill says

    You have a great writing style Bob and I love how much interest it has generated. I think success is subjective. Some people are genuinely happy in the USA. In North America you are told by society that success comes in the shape of having a successful career and making enough money to afford the finer things in life – it’s the American dream. On the other hand, some expats in the Philippines believe living abroad makes them successful because society is better in the Philippines. But how much of that is from the fact that it’s easier to be happy in the Philippines because: we have more money here; language barriers prevent us from being exposed to social pressures; and we don’t have filipino blood so we’re not expected to conform to social norms?
    If you’re a strong person you can be happy anywhere …. but living in the Philippines sure makes it a heck of alot easier to be happy!

    • says

      Thank you so much, Bill, I appreciate your kind words. You are right, success is certainly subjective, we all how our own measures of success. I do feel that I am a successful person! 😆

  26. says

    It’s almost impossible to know how the “what if”s would have turned out. If I hadn’t married my first wife (for all the wrong reasons) I wouldn’t have my wonderful 3 sons. And so on and so on. All we can do is make the best plan possible and move forward. The key being to know what we want. As you stated, it is also in my case.. what I want is not what most of my family or friends want. When my brother told me, “There’s no future for you in the Philippines.”, my response to him was immediately, “No, there’s no future for YOU in the Philippines!”.

    Each of us has to either choose a path or allow circumstances to choose one for us. I prefer to choose my own.

    • says

      Hi Henry – You hit the nail on the head on one thing, that’s for sure… what is good for you, for me, or for either of our brothers is different in each case. No way your brother or mine could judge what is good for either of us. 😆

    • RandyL says

      Henry, when I mention someone of our plans to retire to the RP, many will just give me a cynical look and reply “Why ?” Most commoners (what I call them) don’t have much knowledge of the RP and some even think it is located somewhere in the Caribbean. While ignorance may be bliss, those of us that have the desire to do so, know what we want. Well , most of us do anyway. 😉

  27. says

    Bob, I really like the way this article starts out with you attending the great college of LSU, having lived in Louisiana (New Orleans) I can understand why you drift back to the memories of attending college in Baton Rouge, I’ve attended a couple of the LSU’s Homecoming games and I always enjoyed their beautiful campus. There is nothing that can replace the friendships we’ve made while attending school with the many good and crazy times of being young. It’s amazing how as we get older we begin to reflect on the past, but weather the memories are good or bad, we are richer or poorer even just making ends meet we can all say that we have out lived the past and age makes us realize that what we really seek is true happiness! I believe that the singer Peggy Lee (for those of us old enough to remember who she is) says it all in the song Lyrics of “Is That All There Is” which goes something like this>>
    Is that all there is, is that all there is
    If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
    Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
    If that’s all there is!

    Happiness to All :-)

    • says

      Thanks, CJ, I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. I have been to New Orleans many times. I lived in Louisiana from 1977 until 1987. Finished my last 3 years of HS there, in Franklinton, LA, then college in Baton Rouge. It’s a nice place.

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