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Retire Young in the Philippines — But What About My Children

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Just recently I have been writing some articles aimed at US military retirees, pointing out the fact that unlike the USA environment, where a military retirement is actually just a license to get another job, a military family can actually retire (as in not have a job) and live in the Philippines.

But What About My Children?

Invariably, if it’s a younger family involved, the issue of “But what will happen with my children?  How can I send them to school in the Philippines?  What kind of opportunity will they have in the Philippines”?

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(and so forth … almost always with a tone of dread in the question, as if they figure moving to the Philippines with children will be akin to a death sentence or some such.)

It’s a fair enough question, but one based on rumor, propaganda and a good helping of US jingoism.  The reality is, whatever the President might say, the USA is NOT the “World’s Indispensable Nation” any more in many ways.  Don’t get me wrong, about the USA, “she’s” still my country and I’m proud to be an American, but growing up and getting a job and living in the USA is not the only measure of success anymore, as it might have been in the past.

Ateneo de Manila University

Ateneo de Manila University

In fact, as we sail on deeper into the 21st century, a more “global” outlook is going to be ever more important, in my view.  In the world of business and science and engineering and such, US citizens with experience overseas, the ability to work closely with their counterparts in other countries… yeah, may I throw in a sacrilegious sentiment here, people who can understand the Metric system, even, are going to be ever more in demand.

Your Children Have As Much Opportunity in the Philippines as Anywhere Else

That’s my opinion.  And I’ll tell you exactly why I say that.

Your children’s opportunity in life is determined by two main things.  The education they receive and much more importantly, your leadership .. how you love them, guide them, train and correct them and the type of attitude you imbue them with to serve them all their lives.

In the Philippines you can address their education in at least three different ways:

1.  Send them to a decent International School

There are quite a number of them to choose from.  They all cost more than the allegedly ‘free” schools most kids go to in the USA, but they all teach significantly more than what the average US School system teaches.  (except, perhaps football).  If your child grows up in the Philippines and successfully attends and grads from an accredited International school, his or her chances for success, either with going on to college or going right out into the field of earning a living, are at least as good as a student graduating from any US high school I have ever been acquainted with.

2.  Send Then to a “Name Band” Philippine Private School

The Philippines has quite a number of very well respected private schools (mostly what we would call “parochial schools” in the USA, since most are run under the auspices of one or another Catholic organization.  The cost is less than an International school (usually), and the curriculum may be less internationalized, but they will get a decent education … again, at least equal if not better to any high school education they are likely to get in the USA.  And they will already be more “Internationalized” in terms of language and dealing with the cultures of the rest of the world, as well as their own native USA.

3.  Home School Them

Going to high school online!

Going to high school online!

Although this would not be what some parents would wish, it would certainly be my choice if I had a child to raise today.  There are any number of US schools who now offer complete “online” high school courses, and also the older concept of “correspondence school’ where you subscribe and lessons, texts, tests and coaching (via the Internet) come right to your home.  One source where you can find a wealth of information on these programs is Best Online High Schools a web site (and some best selling books) authored by Tom Nixon who is reader here, I know.  There are competitors too, Tom isn’t the only game in town.  Open your mind from the way things were always done 50 years ago and familiarize yourself with the 21st century .. it’s a great place to live.

One thing I found doing research for this article is that many “name brand” US universities are copying the practice which has long been common in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.  The universities have their own “feeder schools” … offering education from pre-school all the way through high school, all designed to control the entire educational process up though advanced university degrees.    Stanford, BYU, quite a few more I’ve seen are getting into this “vertical marketing”, offering the same  resources and quality of education to students all over the world.

So with respect to education, I don’t see any limit at all regarding your children’s opportunity in the Philippines.

But What About After Graduation, There Are No Jobs in the Philippines, Right?

Well personally I say that is completely wrong, factually and philosophically.

SchoolsFirst of All Who Says a J*O*B is the only definition of success?  I’m well acquainted with the son of a close friend here in the Philippines who just graduated from a (Name Brand) Philippine private high school.  For the time being at least, this fellow isn’t planning on university (although his school has an excellent track record of getting their graduates admitted to colleges and universities here and abroad) … so this young man’s options are by no means closed off to him.

For now he’s building his own income online, doing website development and I believe hosting websites for others.  What else might he do as time goes by .. hey who can say the world is his oyster, and he can easily be earning more than a typical US “entry level” job long before he reaches college graduation age … and he doesn’t have to punch a clock, wear a uniform (military or business attire) or be told what to do and how to live for the next 30 or 40 years as you and I did in earning a military retirement.  Since this young man is a dual Philippine-US citizen (as your children can be also if you retire here), he has every opportunity available to children born and raised in the USA have as well, should he decide to go back to the USA in the future.  As a Philippine citizen, he is free to live here the rest of his life as well, owning property, voting, exercising the other privileges of a Filipino .. and being able to visit countries without a visa that US citizens can’t in a few cases.

Opportunity For You Children Is One Of The Best Reasons to Live in the Philippines, IMO

This article is already grown longer than the average reader cares for, so I’m going to close it out for now.  I could give you lots more examples of children’s success here, either dual citizen US-Philippine children or many “straight” Filipino young people I know who are successfully employed here in the Philippines, many in large international corporations where their growth is only limited by the  perseverance and desires.

The one item I should have covered is the career path that eventually brought me and many other readers here to the Philippines … service in the US military.  It doesn’t seem so popular today as it did when I entered the US military almost 50 years ago.  But it’s still a worthy career .. the US military is actually one of the largest and best equipped training and educational institutions on earth, and a young man entering the US military today will start at the entry level in a job with far, far more responsibility and opportunity than a HS grad getting a job at McDonald’s or a new college grad becoming some glorified clerk selling insurance or peddling stocks or one of the other “good” jobs that college grads can get.

If your child in the Philippines decides s/he does want a military career, has two years or more of college and is a US citizen  or has a Green Card or other mans to enter the US legally, they can join the US military right out the Philippines … so that path to career success is also open to your children if you bring them to the Philippines to live and grow.

Your thoughts?

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Tim Potter
7 years ago

Education is the primary reason I am leaving. After spending hours days weeks researching this vary subject it was my conclusion. Why; The Philippines ranks poorly for educational standards across the board. Not a single University ranked in the 500 world wide. Options yes there are options always. Home school is a skill set I do not have and private school is costly and would be a better value state side. The best option is a tutor with a 2nd tier private school. Yet still money out of pocket. I would rather be stateside if I must provide for tutors… Read more »

Dave Starr
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

Thanks for your thoughts, Tim … I wrote this to promote discussion. Two “counter points” if I may: 1. When I talk about Home School I perhaps did not make enough distinction between the traditional home school where a parent (or, in the Philippines, a graduate teacher you hire to teach in your home, perhaps) provides the instruction, and the online programs from universities as prestigious as Stanford where the children “attend” via distance learning. 2. I’m not really sure where your cost comparison comes in. Are you thinking you are getting “free’ education up through high school in the… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  Dave Starr

Good education costs money. I do not deny that. Just on a fixed pension and costs involved it is best in my situation it is best to return. Being young I can work earn a living and afford the better things. Yes it all can be done and is reasonable in price, $250 dollars month here would obtain an education better then US public schools. Yet times two and extras just to much. That is what I calculated the costs at.

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

“Not a single [Philippine] University ranked in the 500 world wide.” – Tim Potter In fact, only one university in Southeast Asia made the top 400 world wide, and that is the King Mongkut’s University of Technology in Thailand. However, if your “primary reason” for leaving the Philippines is because none of its universities made the list, perhaps you ought to consider the fact that a university education never figured heavily in the founding of either Microsoft or Facebook, whose founders are both billionaires today. Secondly, you may be interested to know that a Judge of the International Court of… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Two examples in a country of 90 million does nothing but support my claim. The Philippines is the mecca of educational learning. They are light years behind. The rich are educated abroad. Denying this helps no one nor does it go to improve the current situation. There will always be cream that rises to the top.

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

There is no denying that Philippine universities have a long way to go to match up with the standards of the universities that were ranked in the top 400 worldwide for 2012-2013, which, by the way are dominated by western countries led by the United States. Heck, even the creme de la creme of Manila – the Ateneo, De La Salle and U.P. were out-classed by the University of Wyoming, the last on the list. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2012-13/world-ranking/range/351-400 However, that is not the point of contention. The 4 examples given are to demonstrate that you do not have to attend a university… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

No joke I am leaving and gave that in my opening line thus my position would be known. There are no promises that any education level will make you a success. Here success measured by educational levels is not comparable to the west. They have a long ways to go to level the field. Education is a building block for everything and for every Bill Gates there are 1000’s of college success stories. So when Global Companies hire and competition comes down to that piece of paper. There in lies my point. As I stated also primary education 1-12 years… Read more »

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

So when global companies hire and competition comes down to that piece of paper, the person hired among a field of bright Filipino and foreign applicants is, – would you believe? – none other than an acquaintance from Botolan, Zambales, an alumnus of lowly Zambales Academy – to disprove your point. As hard as it is to believe, this former carabao driver is today the CFO of a multi-national company based in Europe. To visit his home in Botolan, Zambales, (look it up) is to be transported to a tranquil Japanese house in the countryside, complete with tatami rooms, sliding… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

When all is equal yes education does and your university. You are giving equality to something that was ranked light years outside of equal. There is nothing good about the University system in the Philippines when given a choice. Reality is the rich are sending their children abroad for an education. The character of a person will only get you so far, you must have an education. Your always providing a single example not of multiple stories of success that fall outside of nepotism. Where are the Filipino thinkers in science, research, technology, fortune 500 companies, innovators and leaders in… Read more »

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Wrong. Where did you get the idea that I am “giving equality” to Philippine universities with the top universities from western countries? I’ve said at the beginning that Philippine universities have a long way to go to match up with the standards of the universities that were ranked in the top 400 worldwide. Neither am I discounting the importance of good education as a determinant of success. What I have problem accepting is your unwavering conviction that good education cannot be had from a Philippine university, and, that it is only possible from a Stateside university. I suggest that you… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

If they mirrored other universities they would be ranked better. There is a flaw in the system or just a cheap copy.
Lack of focus how about shortage of classrooms, books, desks, chairs, and failure to pay teacher bonuses. All being equal and a choice given most would not chose to be educated by the standards set here. When you retire young money is an issue and a quality education here is expensive.

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Twenty-six thousand foreigners studying in Philippine universities in 2011 and more than 61,000 in 2012 couldn’t all be wrong!

brenton
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

Hi Tim – You mentioned in a previous comment “Where are the Filipino thinkers in science, research, technology, fortune 500 companies, innovators and leaders in global business. They are missing because of education and the Philippine Governments lack of focus on education”. The formal schooling system even in the mighty America, Canada, Australia etc etc doesn’t teach people to be mighty entrepreneurs or geniuses. In fact it teaches people to be drones and get a job and do as they are told. If you do as your told and answer the questions right you go closer to the top of… Read more »

kenneth crawley
7 years ago

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get my daughter into the U.S., so I want the best education in Davao that I can get her. I want her to have many opportunities for a great life, either here or there. Right now, after checking many high schools in the city, I have her in Southpoint School. Bad thing, in my opinion, is that she is in a 10 year program instead of a 12 year that I feel would have her more preparred for college. The home school in this article is very interesting, but I don’t… Read more »

Dave Starr
7 years ago

@ Kenneth Crawley: You’re more than welcome, Kenneth. Thanks to you for the kind words. As I mentioned in the previous comment, there are other alternatives to learning at home that don’t rely upon the parent being the only teacher/motivator. But you know what I think, now, twenty years after my youngest graduated high school (back in the USA)? Where they go to school, how many grade levels they have, what people say the ‘quality” of the school is and all that hoopla is about as important as yesterday’s bird cage liner. The parents are THE single most important teacher… Read more »

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
7 years ago

Dave,
I’m lucky I don’t have to worry about my childrens education. They are all adults and have long been on there own. The only thing I will miss is seeing my grand children. Other than that I am enjoying my new life here.

Dave Starr
7 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

@ PapaDuck, Yep I am glad (and relieved and very proud) that my two boys spread their wings more than 20 years ago. You did say something really important though, something more of us wanna be writers should emphasize more. So many people worry about what are actually trivial issues .. the “Cost of Living” in the Philippines, niggle-niggle about how Immigration Works (or doesn’t, the annoyance of some neighbor letting his dogs (or roosters) run, and so forth. But one huge issue about retiring to the Philippines to any of is is just this: .miss is seeing my grand… Read more »

Victor Peter
Victor Peter
7 years ago

Dave….are you saying your American born children cab own a house?

loren pogue
loren pogue
7 years ago

I see the courses here in the PI that children are doing in lower grade school which are the same as, or surpass what my grandson was doing in high school in the USA
and then I see some one saying how low rated the schools here are on a world level. How can this be? Are the statistics only from public schools? Maybe they compare the public school here to the top private schools world wide? Maybe its the real deal. I would like to know.

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  loren pogue

They only get 10 years of schooling. That recently changed. Class size, materials, facilities, and ability to attend. They all play a part. Also to much time spent on non-educational programs. You must be more vigilant in your educational oversight here. There is a huge requirement for parents to assist in education here.

Aldel
Aldel
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

I left the Philippines at 12 yrs old in the early ’70s. Moved to San Francisco, CA and attended the public school system. Starting in the 7th grade, we were being taught English grammar and fractions – subjects that we were taught in the 4th grade in the Philippines. My classmates were disruptive and showed no respect for the school authorities. My parents pushed us all 8 kids and we all earned our college degrees in the U.S. In high school I was given an A grade in Physics when the teacher spent many weeks showing us films and what… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  Aldel

The broad brush is not painted by me but by international agencies that rank educational standards for different countries. Public education vs public education Philippines is way behind. Adding a tutor and private schooling you can easily pass US public schooling. Yet there is a cost to that. People from humble backgrounds tend to take advantage of offerings in education.

Owen Olympia
Owen Olympia
7 years ago
Reply to  Aldel

I have to agree with Aldel. I had the opportunity to assist one of the public grade school in South Carolina few years ago and saw how these students were being advance to the next grade even though the teacher or the school for that matter knows that they’re not ready yet. I watched a six grader take a 4th grader test and a third grader that don’t know how to read, and the teacher has to read the exam to him just to take the exam. As a parent, we all want the best for our children when it… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  Owen Olympia

Have you ever been to a Philippine classroom. I have.. Average class size 55, shared books, no desks for students. There are no libraries or educational centers and no arts or sports in school. In SC you must pass an exit exam to graduate they can kick that can down the road, but in 8th grade to advance you must also pass a test. The funding is based on attendance and test scores. This is similar for many states. As I continue to state because of the article title is to equal education in the US it cost money.

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

You must be talking about a public school, Tim. You certainly are not talking about a quality private school. What you describe is nothing like where my kids attend school, at Ateneo de Davao. They even have a brand new beautiful swimming pool on campus! Desks? Books? Plenty of supply. 55 in a class? It will never happen. They have beautiful library facilities, a computer lab and plenty of other such things. There is an absolutely beautiful sports complex that houses multiple basketball courts. A soccer field a beautiful track with a rubberized surface. It is a much nicer school… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Yes apples for apples. If I were to pay money for schooling I would expect that.

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

There is no place in the world where you don’t pay money for schooling. The States? What do you think Property taxes are for?

Dave Starr
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

@ Tim Potter

Thanks for your insights but I respectfully would ask you re-read what I wrote … especially the title which you reference, incorrectly.

None of my alternatives ever recommend Philippine Public Schools. I really don’t know why the major part of the discussion has turned into a debate on the Philippine public schools system. For the record I do not recommend it.

I wish you well on your move back to the USA, the Philippines is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure. Be well.

jim
jim
7 years ago

I’m also fortunate in so much my children graduated from a UK univesity so I had none of the problems associated with raising them in the Philippines. In saying that however my wife graduated from Xavier University CDO and it never handicaped her in any way during her working career both in the Philippines or abroad. I truly think its all down to the individual in the end.
Regards.
Jim.

Eli Boon
Eli Boon
7 years ago

I grew up in the Philippines, did High school there, and some college, at age 22 I dropped of college to join the US Navy thru the US Naval Base in Subic Bay, I successfully passed after competing against thousands of other young filipinos. I’m still a college dropout froma Philippine college in the province, I am currently workign for a DoD contractor and earning over $10,000 a month based on my military experience. Which means I did not need a college degree to be successfull in life. I think other college drop-outs like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs,… Read more »

Tim Potter
7 years ago
Reply to  Eli Boon

Mr Boon I would agree 100% you are a success story. Sometimes upwards of 100,000 applicants applied for those 400 slots. Your test scores and interview must have been off the charts. Congrats on a great career. For those that do not know the history search US Navy Philippine Enlistment Program (PEP).

EliBoon
EliBoon
7 years ago
Reply to  Tim Potter

Tim, Thanks.What I’m trying to say is, even though “Not a single Philippine University ranked in the 500 world wide.” some top universities in the Philippines can still produce quality education that can compete worldwide. I have several classmates who are educated here but are now successful doctors, nurses, school administrators, bank superivsor etc. one of my high school classmate, a doctor was recognized as one of the Top Gastroenterologist in Florida. My family lives in the Philippines right now, and my 2 kids who are currently in high school are more likely to study college in the Philippines. Regards,… Read more »

Kyle E. McKay
Kyle E. McKay
7 years ago

When we moved from Canada last year we knew education was going to be an issue. To alleviate it we saved up a sum of money in a Registered Education Savings Plan so they could return to Canada for their post graduate studies. The kids are going to an accredited International School in Angeles, but despite the high price, the quality of the education does not compare to the public school back in Canada. Case in point, my daughter (grade 4) was doing an exercise with timezones. She was to determine local time from 17:00 GMT on 12 cities around… Read more »

brenton
7 years ago
Reply to  Kyle E. McKay

Hi Kyle – I am good a maths – That sounds complicated and I might have even got it wrong.

don
don
7 years ago

I have several older friends, in their 50s or early 60s, who have retired to the Phils and now have children. If they should die, not sure how they will be able to survive given they rely on military pension or SS. I know the spouse and kids continue to receive, just not sure how much or if the husband educated the family on what to do in case of death. Just a thought to consider for those moving to the Phils in search of a new life. I know most of them do not plan on having children, but… Read more »

brenton
7 years ago

Hi Dave – Nice article. I have a 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter going to silliiman a Protestant private school in Dumaguete and they are Australian citizens and we have been in the Philippines for 16 months. Silliman is regarded amongst the best in the country. It costs only $625 a year, very cheap I say and very good. I don’t pin the hopes of my children on any education system though. Yes education will teach you stuff that will serve you well in life. But real life experience that you learn from parents and closer… Read more »

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