If you want to live in the Philippines, you need some kind of visa to stay here. Let’s look at one way you can co it: tourist visas.
While I don’t think a tourist visa is the best way to go, for some people it is one of the only ways of doing it. When you fly into the Philippines, you will automatically be issued a visa waiver with which you can legally stay for 30 days. When it is coming up on your 30 day limit for staying, you can go and visit the Bureau of Immigration office in the city where you are visiting, or a nearby city if you are in a small town. For a matter of paying a small fee, your initial 30 day visa will be extended to 59 days. Subsequent visas will give you a full 59 days stay (or a more expensive 6 month extension is also available in major cities). There is a catch here, though…. your total stay cannot exceed 3 years (note: The law has been changed, previously you could remain in the country up to 16 months). So, basically you can get a total of 18 visas and extensions of 59 days each, and then you must leave.
When it is time to leave the country because your visa can no longer be renewed, you have a few choices to make. Maybe you want to return home, to the USA or wherever you came here from. Alternatively, maybe you don’t feel a need to go back home, and want to just take a quick trip out of the country so you can re-enter and start all over again. If you check the Sunday newspapers in the Philippines you will find lots of advertisements for travel agents selling getaway packages to Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam or Singapore. For just $200 to $300 (sometimes even less) you can take a 2 to 3 days getaway to one of these locations, with a return flight to the Philippines. When you enter the Philippines after your short jaunt abroad, your tourist visa merry-go-round starts all over again, allowing you to get another year here (in 59 day increments, of course).
Keep in mind that when you return to the Philippines, you must have an ongoing airline ticket that will take you out of the Philippines within 59 days. Many people call this a “throw away” ticket because you just show it to the immigration officials to prove that you have one, then throw it away because you have no intention to use it. You can get a valid throw away ticket for as little as $20 and certainly under $50.
For all intents and purposes, you can continue this process for as long as you like, leaving once per year and coming back for another year stay.